Any person alive today, at least in developed and developing counties, would have heard of “going green”. But what about becoming an “Urban Homesteader“? Well, being an urban homesteader is an aspect of being green that not all people have to practice to go green. However, it is a fun aspect of contributing to the bigger picture of a “Greener World“.
In the broad sense, urban homesteading can refer to several different things ranging from official, dedicated programs from local, state, and federal agencies in the USA to nonprofits organizations – helping city people practice urban agriculture or engage in sustainable living techniques.
Becoming an “Urban Homesteader” is my most recent goal/hobby/interest. To me, it means having a sustainable garden in the suburb of Orange County while incorporating both decorative and edible flowers into my urban garden. Life is simply just sweeter with flowers… be it a humble dandelion weed flower or an expressive giant dinner plate dahlia. Plus, as a former floral designer, I have to have me some flowers.
So my journey of becoming an Urban Homesteader started with seeing all the #edibleweeds in my front lawn and backyard and recognizing that they were just served up on my salad plates at the restaurants. It wasn’t something new… I have known for years. But a light bulb slowly glowed, flickered and after a while, the light bulb simply stayed on and kept nagging me to get into the garden. I make salads at least twice a week at home for dinner, so it was hard to ignore this.
Since we have an organic backyard with the Vietnamese herbs, I started researching on the different plants and weeds to see what weeds truly were edible out there. Before I knew it, my innate-geeky/nerdy-self took over; and I started researching on vegetation in Zone 10b of Southern California, etc., especially plants that repel bugs. I am like a bug magnet; and I was covered in bug bites… and as I am allergic to some bug bites, it wasn’t fun being itchy with red blotches. So, I started propagating my basil and mint plants so that I can create my own natural garden pest control.
It was very interesting to research and learn about the worlds of homesteaders, urban homesteaders, farmers and other social media stars with their own version of agricultural adventures and thoughts. I specifically first sought out researching on #AsiaticDayflower since they were all over my backyard. I was overwhelmed with the plethora of information on YouTube. It was amusing and enlightening. The cute little blue Asiatic Dayflower and its greens became the first of my edible weeds. The picture below is my first salad after #foraging my yard to include some edible weeds (e.g., Asiatic Dayflower , wood sorrel, and Jewels of Opar) along with homegrown greens: Vietnamese chives flowers, amaranth, water spinach, Malabar spinach, etc.
My first project as an Urban Homesteader was to expand the Vietnamese herbs garden that my Grandfather had started. My mom kept most of his plants alive but hasn’t done much more since his death. We have the following herbs, including some of my favorites: Thai/Vietnamese basil (húng quế), Vietnamese coriander (rau răm), Vietnamese balm (kinh giới), fish mint (diếp cá), Chinese chives (hẹ), Asiatic pennywort (rau má), lemongrass (xả), Vietnamese peppermint (húng cay), and Vietnamese spearmint (húng lũi). Of course, no Vietnamese household can be without fruit trees: guavas, cherimoya, citrus, kumquat, dragonfruits, apples, peach, loquat, etc. And don’t forget the Thai chili peppers.
So, as I eat at Vietnamese restaurants with friends and family, I would take some of the stalks from the veggie plates to propagate the #stemcuttings in water at home. I started paying attention at the supermarket to buy vegetables where I can take #kitchenscraps or #seeds like Malabar spinach, onions, pepper seeds, etc., while preparing dinner. It is a simple way to start expanding my garden on little to no budget.
However, I would invest in certain herbs (e.b., lemon balm, pineapple sage, etc.) because I wanted these herbs for my tea and flowers that I think would be a lovely addition to my garden that I cannot wait for seeding process.
Through internet research, I also learned that there are such things as a “Master Gardener”, #seedexchange, #seedlending, self-watering lines, etc. Interestingly, my hometown has a program, and here’s a shameless plug since I was able to borrow some seeds to start my urban garden at #DomsAbode.
OPL Seed Lending Library
The Orange Seed Lending Library is made possible through a collaboration of the Orange Public Library Foundation and Orange Home Grown.
Then, there is the world of plant apps like “Picture This” which I found is a bit slow to load at times but much more accurate than other apps. Apps like this help me forage my yards for edible weeds and increase my basic knowledge of plants and flowers. However, please do use several sources to cross-reference if you have not forage any particular weeds before because some weeds have “imposters” that will get you sick.
And don’t forget the beloved Garden Tags community where I have made virtual friends where we share gardening as a common interest. I have engaged in #seedexchange through GT and am most excitedly expecting seedlings from my seed exchange from other regions to my So Cal Zone 10b urban garden.
And on this gardening adventure, I have now added ‘becoming a Master Gardener’ to my bucket list.
So stay tuned for my gardening progress reports and share me yours!
In the meantime, check out some of my creative outlets like this #foraging t-shirt I designed. I do think it was pretty clever of me. 🙂