Learning a new skill means that you can DIY rather than pay someone to do it for you--plus, you can fix or amend it whenever you want. There are two added bonuses: you might save a some cash and you know exactly what's going on so when something goes madly awry you may have an inkling why.
Over the course of a lifetime focused on learning skills you will learn so much! But, if you are just getting started or if you are overwhelmed with how much there is to learn...where to start? What to do?
Gosh...learn it all folks! Okay, no, here are a few skills that I think are impactful on the homestead, money saving, and have terrific bonus prizes like: kicking Monsanto to the curb, controlling the ingredients, and simply making some more when you run out.
- Seed Saving. Start with tomatoes and beans. Food crops from seeds collected in your mirco-climate are going to out perform seeds collected across the country. Save money. Swap seeds with other gardeners and each year buy fewer and fewer seeds. Grow a collection of seeds! Preserve rare varieties.
- Soap. Soap making seems to be underrated. It's not super complex but it can save lots of cash-ola. One afternoon of soap making can yield enough soap for an entire year. Sodium hydroxide and Potassium hydroxide transform oils into bar soaps and liquid soaps with the magic of saponification. Learn the basics and buy less or no soap.
- Garden Focus. Taking time to hone skill with particular crop(s) can increase yields, reduce disease and pest, and take things off the list to buy. It can be exciting and perhaps overwhelming for a new or newer gardener to plant dozens of vegetable varieties. Perhaps focusing on a one or two or three key crops can ensure quality and a good yield. Slow down and observe the crop(s) you are focused on so you are an expert and next season focus on others. I like to focus on crops that I've found difficult or I know my efforts will result in a substantial yield.
- Bread. Bread making is a money saver. Quick breads are the gateway to money saving. Learning all about wild yeasted breads like levain and sourdough means great bread and no more packaged mono-culture yeasts.
- Canning and Planning. It seems that every canner has a story about canning too much: "I canned 150 jars of strawberry jam. Hi, how are you? Would you like some jam?" Learning to not only boiling bath can but pressure can is a valuable skill. Transforming dried beans, fresh tuna and salmon, stewing hens, and broth into pantry staples that require no energy to store and no defrosting.
There are hundreds of great books for learning homesteading skills. These are part of my reference library and I recommend each as part of learning the skills of seed saving, canning, breadmaking, and soapmaking.
- Suzanne Ashworth (2002). Seed to Seed: Seed Saving and Growing Techniques for Vegetable Gardeners. Seed Savers Exchange. ISBN: 1-882424581.
- Edward Espe Brown (1970). The Tassajara Bread Book. Shambhala Publications, Inc. ISBN: 0877730199.
- Susan Miller Cavitch (1997). The Soapmaker's Companion. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9780222669656
- Kathleen Failor (2000). Making Natural Liquid Soaps. Storey Publishing. ISBN: 9781580172431.
- Ken Forkish (2012). Flour Water Salt Yeast: The Fundamentals of Artisan Bread and Pizza. Ten Speed Press. ISBN: 9781607742739.
- Sandor Ellix Katz (2003). Wild Fermentation: The Flavor, Nutrition, and Craft of Live-Culture Foods. Chelsea Green Publishing Company. ISBN: 1931498237.
- Laurel Robinson (1984). The Laurel's Kitchen Bread Book: A Guide to Whole-Grain Breadmaking. Random House. ISBN: 0394537009.
- Kevin West (2013). Saving the Season: A cook's guide to home canning, pickling and preserving. Alfred A. Knopf. ISBN: 9780307599483.
- Special thanks to Dale, Nia, Kiki, and Steph for all the love and support!
- Aaron Glasson, Permaculture Velocity logo
- Music: Tell Somebody by Alex Beroza featuring AdmiralBob, digccmixter, licensed under Creative Commons 3.0
- And to all those podcasters out there sharing good information on podcasting for those of us just getting going with this podcast thing! Thank you