The Weekend Homesteader is organized by month—so whether it’s January or June you’ll find exciting, short projects that you can use to dip your toes into the vast ocean of homesteading without getting overwhelmed. If you need to fit homesteading into a few hours each weekend and would like to have fun while doing it, these projects will be right up your alley, whether you live on a forty-acre farm, a postage-stamp lawn in suburbia, or a high rise.
You'll learn about backyard chicken care, how to choose the best mushroom and berry species, and why and how to plant a no-till garden that heals the soil while providing nutritious food. Permaculture techniques will turn your homestead into a vibrant ecosystem and attract native pollinators while converting our society's waste into high-quality compost and mulch. Meanwhile, enjoy the fruits of your labor right away as you learn the basics of cooking and eating seasonally, then preserve homegrown produce for later by drying, canning, freezing, or simply filling your kitchen cabinets with storage vegetables. As you become more self-sufficient, you'll save seeds, prepare for power outages, and tear yourself away from a full-time job, while building a supportive and like-minded community. You won't be completely eliminating your reliance on the grocery store, but you will be plucking low-hanging (and delicious!) fruits out of your own garden by the time all forty-eight projects are complete.
More a grab bag than comprehensive guide, this collection of 48 weekends' worth of self-sufficiency projects gives wanna-be homesteaders who have more curiosity than time a taste of modern homesteading. Hess describes this process as starting where you are whether a high-rise or suburban neighborhood or "where supplies have to be helicoptered in" to "use sweat equity to grow nutritious, delicious food, create sustainable heat from locally grown wood, and use free organic matter to rebuild the soil." Hess draws on her own six years of trial-and-error homesteading, extensive reading, and contributions from her blog readers to teach skills that include mapping your yard and neighborhood, planting a garden and a fruit tree, saving seeds, budgeting your time and money, finding collaborators, preparing for power shortages, and even weaning yourself from the media. Some readers may question the need for instruction in simple common activities like hanging laundry or roasting a chicken, and Hess's focus tends more toward her own rural milieu than that of urban apartment dwellers. On the whole, however, the book enthusiastically, if sometimes na vely, helps readers succeed at dipping "into the vast ocean of homesteading without being overwhelmed."