How to Create a Thriving Keyhole Garden

Hey everyone! Today we have a special post written by Jen from Nourishing Foundations. I hope that you enjoy her post on creating a beautiful and bountiful keyhole garden.

In 2012, my husband and I were DINKS (Double-Income-No-Kids) living in Washington, D.C. We saved up a bunch of money, quit our jobs and decided to pull the trigger on a passion project: volunteering and traveling in East Africa for the summer.

During our time in East Africa, we traveled throughout Kenya and Tanzania, helped a little and learned a whole lot. In particular, I’ll never forget our time in Athi River, Kenya, where we learned about Keyhole Gardens. The people we were with used keyhole gardens in drought-affected, high-poverty areas to revolutionize the landscape (no pun intended). These brilliantly designed gardens could feed a family throughout the year, make the best use of a small amount of space, incorporate compost and efficiently use water in high-drought areas. I was so impressed!

Fast Forward 6 years. It’s now 2018. The hubs and I have two kids, aged 4 & 7 mos. I’m a SAHM (stay-at-home-mom). My husband just finished up his MBA and is looking for a job. We have nowhere near the disposable income we were accustomed to in 2012. (These days, it all goes to diapers and preschool!)

Last year we purchased a modest home and finally had our own space to grow whatever we wanted. However, with two young kids in constant need of love and attention, I knew the chances of getting a garden together this Spring were slim. Enter: a keyhole garden.

Following is an overview of how we put ours together:

Shape

Use rocks, cinder blocks, wood, bricks, or other materials around the perimeter. The shape of the garden should be that of a keyhole (a circle with an indentation), approximately 6 feet in diameter and 3 feet high. A compost basket is placed in the middle.

Fill

Layer leaves, grass clippings, compostable materials, rocks, and sticks (to help with drainage) until the garden is ⅔ full. The remaining ⅓ should be filled with soil

Plant

Plant vegetables and herbs of choice. Note: consider planting cucumbers/squash and fruits/vegetables that tend to spread, elsewhere; they will try to “take over” the small space.

Care

Place your scraps/compost in the middle (we used a tomato cage covered with bamboo fencing) and pour water over this to trickle out to the plants. Weed and water around plants as necessary.

Enjoy the fruits of your labor!

We own a half acre of land, so while space wasn’t a huge problem, I found that the small size of the garden meant I could easily weed, water and care for my plants without it taking too long. The height of the garden also helped with this – it’s waist high, which is great for my back. Manageable is good. 🙂 Finally, the keyhole shape made for easy care and weeding/harvesting access.

What about you? Are you interested in starting a garden but feeling overwhelmed? Are you living in a place where you have limited space? Do you need something that will be efficient with water? Think about giving a keyhole garden a try!

Bio:

Jen Kloss is a mom, teacher and nutrition enthusiast, ever seeking out ways to help her family eat healthy on a budget. Her goal is to empower others to achieve and maintain a healthy, nourished lifestyle amidst the demands of work and day-to-day life. When she takes a break from changing diapers, cooking and cleaning baby spit-up, Jen blogs around these topics over at www.nourishfoundations.com/blog.

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Raising Chickens: Getting Started With Chickens on the Homestead

image of a farm raised chicken

If you’re just starting your homestead or even a homestead veteran you’ve likely been told to add chickens to your homestead. Raising chickens is fairly easy and quite enjoyable. They can be free range or you can keep them in a coop. It’s really up to you, but they provide eggs and meat and are an easy addition to the family homestead.

I mean, who doesn’t like farm fresh eggs? They’re delicious and super healthy too. You can’t get this kind of fresh at the grocery store.

When I was growing up we had chickens once in our backyard. Mind you, we lived in the city and maybe had an acre that we lived on. My parents weren’t trying to build a homestead either. They just wanted the chickens for eggs.

I’m not sure how long we kept the chickens, but it was awesome while it lasted. Sadly, we lived right next to a wooded area and they ended up being attacked and all killed. I think after that my mom decided she didn’t want to try again. She has a big heart when it comes to animals.

image of chickens on the homestead

But, it’s one of my goals when we finally get a piece of land. I want to raise chickens for both meat and eggs. This also means I need to start figuring out how much chicken we actually eat so I know how many chicks we’ll have to raise each year to get us through.

Raising Chickens: Getting Started With Chickens on the Homestead

In my quest for knowledge, I’ve found a few things along the way that I wanted to pass on. While we have chickens back on our family property, it’s also 3 hours north of where we live (on a good day). Not really feasible to drive home every day or week to gather eggs. So, my in-laws are reaping those benefits.

But, I wanted to equip myself with an understanding of what I would need to do when we do buy our first flock.

This is pretty much the list I’ve settled on for know.

image of a woman holding a chicken

#1 Decide If You Want Meat Chickens or Just Eggs

We’ve already decided we want both meat chickens and layers. But, this is something you’ll have to decide for yourself.

#2 Decide On a Breed of Chicken

We haven’t figured this out yet. Make sure you do your homework and you’re sure which breed is best for you and your family.

#3 Will You Buy Grown or Baby Chicks?

I think we’re going to do a mix of both of these. I’ve read it’s a lot easier to buy a batch of chicks to raise for meat every year rather than hatching them all yourself, but it is possible to hatch them to butcher too.

#4 Will You Free Range or Keep in a Coop?

Many people are either scared to free range their chickens because of predators OR they’ve had predator attacks and decided not to free range. Whether you’re ok with free-range life or want to do the coup life it’s completely up to you.

We free ranged our chickens back home. Yes, we had some attacks (snakes were bad about getting the babies), but we preferred free ranging rather than keeping them in a coup.

#5 Figure Out Feeding Needs

This is definitely something that will vary based on whether they’re free range or living in a coup. If they’re free-range chickens they can get a lot of their own food in the spring, summer, and fall times. But feed in winter is definitely necessary.

Check out the post below about feeding your chickens. It’s really helpful!

#6 Prepare for Your Flock to Arrive

Nothing is as fun as when your chickens arrive. I can remember a friend of my husbands bringing over a big box of chicks. I was so excited. My son was too.

Make sure you either have the necessities for caring for your chicks or that you have all the things you need for grown chickens. You’ll probably still find things you’d like to grab or need to grab as time goes on, but getting a good start is always helpful!

Other articles  you might like:

Awesome Posts & Resources To Get You Started Raising Chickens

image of chickens free ranging

#1 The Flip Flop Barnyard

6 Expert Tips For Raising Pastured Poultry

Read more about this post right here.

How to Raise Baby Chicks- Everything You Need to Know

Read more about this post right here.

Choosing a Chicken Breed For Your Homestead

Read more about this post right here.

How to Butcher a Chicken at Home

Read more about this post right here.

#2 Celebrating a Simple Life

Hatching Supplies to Buy at the Dollar Store

Read more about this post right here.

Choosing the Best Rooster for Your Flock

Read more about this post right here.

Does the Coop Need a Heat Lamp?

Read more about this post right here.

#3 Books & Resources

The Small-Scale Poultry Flock

Find this book right here.

#4 The Free Range Life

Pros and Cons of Free Range Chickens

Read more about this post right here.

#5 The Courageous Chicken

11 Reasons to Raise Backyard Chickens

Read more about this post right here.

How Often Should You Collect Eggs?

Read more about this post right here.

Where Do I Buy Chicks?

Read more about this post right here.

#6 Our Simple Homestead

Electric Chicken Fence

Read more about this post right here.

9 Tips for Raising Baby Chickens

Read more about this post right here.

#7 The Prairie Homestead

Homemade Chicken Feed Recipe

Read more about this post right here.

#8 Champagne and Mudboots

How to Raise Chickens and Avoid Salmonella Contamination

Read more about this post right here.

#9 Hillsborough Homestead

Top 12 Heritage Chicken Breeds

Read more about this post right here.

Now it’s time to get started!

Since you’re a little more familiar with chicken breeds, whether you should start with chicks or adult chickens, what kind of feed you need and all the other stuff that goes along with raising chickens it’s time to get started.

Make your list of things you’ll need and get excited. Raising chickens is both fun and enjoyable. You’ll love it and your kids will love being able to help out.


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RV Storage Ideas for Your Homestead Items

image of flip top bottles

When you downsize from 1000+ sq.ft. to a 31ft. RV with two slides you lose A LOT of the space that you once had. Over the last year and 7 months in our RV, I’ve had to get creative with storage. So I wanted to share my RV storage ideas for your homestead items to show you that you don’t have to compromise. You just have to be creative.

image of canned jams

RV Storage Ideas for Your Homestead Items

Now, to be fair, I still have a good bit I could probably pair down in our RV, but I haven’t been as diligent with it lately. Our cabinets get a little too full, books take up a little too much space, toys sometimes litter the kid’s rooms and sometimes our blanket stash explodes from under the couch.

Ok, that may be a little exaggerated (especially that last part), but the idea still stands. We could pair down a little more and be more mindful of our keepsakes and what needs to go. Having 4 yoga blankets in our RV might be a bit much, but we tend to use them. We probably don’t need allllll my books stuffed in cabinets, but come on, reading on an iPad just isn’t the same as holding a book. We compromise on some things.

But, that’s where different RV storage ideas come in handy!

Related Post: Why We Decided Not to Fully Renovate Our RV

Things We’ve Done to Maximize Space

#1 Added Shelving In Cabinets

When we first moved into our camper it was crazy to see that there were no shelves in the cabinets or pantry. It baffled me to the point of just shaking my head. Initially, we stored our Swifer sweeper in our pantry because it was tall enough. But, I got tired of having absolutely nowhere to put canned goods.

So, rather than me complain about not having shelves in my pantry I went out and bought command hooks and asked my husband to cut shelves for me to lay in there. Now we have four shelves and can fit a good amount of things in our pantry.

It’s going to give me plenty of space to store canned goods and canning equipment.

#2 Added Command Hooks to Walls

This has been the single most awesome thing we’ve done in our camper. We have roughly 12 Command Hooks in our kitchen alone. They hold coffee cups, lemons, measuring spoons, measuring cups, oven mitten, wooden ladle, lighter and a wire mesh strainer so far. We also use them under the sink to hang things that have handles like our strainer.

Since I like to cook from scratch, having space for my kitchen wares was really important to me. I don’t have a LOT of stuff that I used to have, but what I do have is a good bit for living in an RV.

Other than the kitchen, we use Command Hooks in the bathroom for towels, my hair dryer, and straightener. And, then we use them in our bedroom and the kid’s bedroom for things like jackets. Of course, the jackets are going to be put up for summer, so I’m not sure what we’ll use them for now.

I’m sure we’ll figure it out though!

Related Post: Top RV Homestead Kitchen Items You Need

#3 Built Shelves for Under Our Kitchen Sink

This space was a complete wreck before we put shelving in there. There were pots and pans and bowls all in there looking like a mini tornado came through. It was such a pain to stack things nicely or keep them nice and neat. I’m sure it would have been easier if I made a rack for the pot and pan lids. I still plan on doing that on the doors though, so that will be organized soon.

After putting a shelf under the sink it looks so much better! Even without the lid storage rack. I’m so happy. It’s the little things really. Now I can fit my InstaPot (that I need to replace), my water bath canner, tall stockpot and soon to be pressure canner under here.

My only issue with the shelf is that it’s not currently notched to fit around our water lines for the sink. That might be a little confusing, but the short story is the shelf was initially a table desk for me while sitting on the couch. I just got tired of the area under the sink being so cluttered.

The husbeast said he’s going to notch it soon… once he has time to breathe from work that is.

Related Post: How to Homestead in a Camper or Small Space

#4 Removed Our Microwave for Added Storage

Our microwave took a crap a few months after we moved into our RV and it sat in its cubby for about 5 months before we got tired of looking at it. Granted, if you ever need something to store bread in then a dead microwave is FABULOUS. It keeps bread fresh a super long time, but other than that it just took up valuable space.

One day, my husband decided to see what it looked like behind the microwave and to our surprise, it was a cubby space with an electrical plug. So, we removed the microwave and haven’t looked back.

Now, we have tons of space in that area and I plan on putting a shelf or two in there as well. My only issue with the microwave space is that it’s right above the oven/stove so it gets pretty hot up there. You have to be careful what you store and make sure that heat won’t alter it chemically.

#5 Converting Under Beds to Storage Areas

This is a work in progress and right now we store some blankets that we used during winter under the beds, but that’s going to change. Or shift at least.

We’re going to be using it as storage for canned goods once we start canning this year. Which, I hope to start soon, but I need to get a pressure canner first. Note: That’s going to be real soon.

I have a few ideas for how I want to structure under my husbands and my bed and my daughter’s bed. Just a matter of getting it out of my head and onto paper so my husband can understand what I am trying to tell him. Apparently, I’m not good at explaining things haha.

I want either some drawers or shelves under my bed with the center space open kind of like if we were to walk between it. Not sure why yet, but that’s what I’m visualizing.

Then, under my daughter’s bed, I half visualize a square with cubbies built in for individual jars so they can’t tip over and roll around. Though, I’m not sure exactly how many we’d be able to store under the bed if we do that. So, that’s something we’re thinking about.

Related Post: How to Find an RV Site for Long-Term Living

#6 Put Shelving in Closet Spaces

We found some wire/metal shelving at Lowes that we used for our closets and our son’s closet that seem to work well right now. I wish it was a solid board that went all the way to the back of the closet for my husband’s and my closet, but these have worked so far.

This has helped out a lot since our closets didn’t have anything for us to hang clothes on, and the fact that we didn’t really hang many of our clothes anyway. There’s also the whole “our roof is weak” part to think about. So, shelving in the closets made the most sense for us.

I’m not complaining… too much at least.

#7 Organize Outside Storage Compartments

In the beginning, it was more of a “throw stuff in and close it” free for all. But slowly we’ve started to organize it so we’re not knocking things over or digging around to find a specific tool we need. With the outside compartments not being really big, it was kind of tough, but we manage thankfully.

If you can organize by putting the bigger items in the back and layering it forward that’s helpful. Then you’re able to see everything in one glance without having to dig through all the things.

This is mostly where all our gardening things go and any power tools my husband has.

#8 Use Under Couch Space For “Other” Storage Stuff

Our “under the couch” space right now is kind of a space for things we don’t use as often. So, for one item that’s my sewing machine. I don’t use it much, but I use it enough that I want to keep it in under the couch. There are a few other things under there too like mason jars, but not much.

Once we fix the couch to where it’s one solid board that has a handle hole drilled out I’ll likely store more things under it. Like canned goods and some foods that we buy from the store. It’s just a big pain to get into right now.

#9 Tall Toy Basket

We use a laundry basket we bought from Target for the kid’s toys. It’s been one of the best investments kid toy wise. It’s tall enough that all of their toys fit in it, but not too big that it takes up a lot of room. Keeping the space clear is what we’re aiming for so it looks bigger in there.

Thankfully, they keep their room cleaner with the basket too.

There are also toys and books in an overhead compartment in their room too. I need to clean it out actually. They don’t really use much in there so that’s a great place to downsize some things and give to a church or place in town.

Get Creative With Your Space

Just because these are the ways I have found to store all my goodies, doesn’t mean it has to be your way. Once you see your space and have lived in it a little bit you’ll start to find places where things should go and you’ll create your own storage ideas.

I at least hope this has given you some creative spark to get you going.

Happy Storage Building!


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How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV

image of an rv kitchen

Tiny home living has made national news, and with all the downsizing that has happened, the kitchen seems to be one of the hardest areas for us. I love to cook big meals, but trying to cook a full meal in an RV can be a little tricky.

The oven is really small, you only have 3 eyes and your “counter” space is all but non-existent. It can really get to me sometimes. Some RV’s have really good counter space, but ours is so tiny. Which is why we have to improvise in our RV and use other areas besides the counter space we don’t have.

Image of a skillet on a stove

Cooking does require a little planning, but taking into account everything else it balances out. I’m going to go over how we balance making home cooked meals in an RV without compromising on anything.

How To Cook A Full Meal In An RV

We’re really horrible at meal planning honestly. My husband typically eats what is supposed to be leftovers and then a week’s worth of meals turns into 3 days of meals. Thankfully, we’re pretty simple folks when it comes to meals anyway and I make it work with what we have and we spitball most of our meal ideas. If you keep it simple you’ll never feel stressed over meals.

Rather than planning to have meat and 3+ sides, we typically have meat and 2 sides. It doesn’t matter if we’re cooking inside or outside, we stick to about 2 sides (we don’t salad if we have a salad).

Related Post: How To Live In An RV Without Feeling Cramped

1 Keep Meals Simple

image of a pot of chili

In a big kitchen, it’s easy to make lovely, big meals, but in a tiny kitchen, it’s a little bit more difficult. You have to get strategic and figure out what needs to be started first and go from there.

For instance, if you’re making baked chicken in a cast iron pan with some veggies you can use the stove and oven simultaneously. We prep our chicken first and get the cast iron pan hot before putting the chicken in the oven. After we get that in the oven we wash up whatever dishes need to be washed and move on to the sides.

Most of our sides are made on the stove top, so we’re actually not that cramped while cooking.

2 Plan Your Meals (Week By Week)

I’ll admit that this is a step we’re still working on ourselves. Mainly because I get fed up trying to meal plan when it always get’s botched by my husband eating the leftovers. That’s why #1 is so important for us. Simple meals really do make a difference.

We’re not elaborate cooks anyway, so I guess that is really good for us.

If you’re not a great meal planner (like us) here’s a simple spreadsheet we’ve been using. I try to look at it as suggestions. So, if we don’t want chicken tonight and tomorrow is steak I’ll swap them and then my grocery haul doesn’t change.

Along with keeping meals simple, meal planning also helps us stick to our budget rather than defaulting to going out to eat.

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3 Use Space Wisely (I.E. Know What’s Cooking/Needing to Be Prepped When)

image of an RV kitchen

Sometimes I still FUBAR (f***ed up beyond all repair – thanks grandpa for that one all those years ago) this one. There will be times where I’ll think one thing will take x minutes when it really took way more or less time. This has happened because we’re still getting used to how our tiny oven cooks (read: I doubt we’ll ever “get” it).

But, it doesn’t have to be difficult. Figure out what will take the longest to make and start that first. This is one of the reasons we bought an InstaPot honestly. It has so many settings and if it’s a slow cooked meal I can set it and forget it. However, it’s also good for making a big batch of rice for the week.

Related Post: 30+ Must Have Items for Homestead Beginners

4 Have Your Ingredients Ready

image of an rv table

We use our kitchen table a lot of the times for chopping and prepping foods. If it’s meat we usually put the wood cutting board over the sink so that any blood/juices can just drop in the sink.

I love, love separating things out and putting them in bowls so that I have everything ready to go. It’s so easy to chop and toss in the bowl so that it’s ready to toss in while cooking. Sometimes I can skirt by with one bowl, but other times I’m not so lucky.

These are the bowls I use and love. There are various sizes that I can choose from that make it easy to decide whether I want to combine foods or keep them separate. Another big plus is that they stack! That’s a definite plus in an RV!

In any case, have your ingredients out and ready so that when you need them you’re not rushing.

5 Keep Dishes Washed Accordingly

Nothing is worse than having tons of dishes in the sink while you’re trying to cook in a small RV. What we do is wash dishes as we cook lunch or supper. By washing while cooking we also cut down on what we have to wash after we eat.

Having everything washed also cuts down on how claustrophobic I get. It isn’t often that I feel that way, but a cluttered camper and kitchen area can make me feel really crazy.

Washing as I go is one thing my husband grandmother taught me even living in a 1000 sq. ft. house. It makes clean-up easier when everything is all said and done.

6 Use Correct Pot/Pan Sizes For The Item You’re Cooking

You wouldn’t believe how many times we would be making a dish and had to transfer it to a bigger pot/pan. Whether it was green beans or soup, I’ve underestimated a time or two. Heck, I’ve overestimated many times. That just means more dishwashing in the form of a bigger pot or extra pots/pans.

Related Post: How to Homestead in a Camper or Small Space

7 Store Food Wisely

We’ve been trying to kick plastic in our home for a while, but Ziploc bags still thwart us. Our cups are either stainless or glass, we’ve never been one to use plastic plates or utensils, and our coffee filter is wired mesh. For storing leftover foods we have glass food storage.

If we have a one-pot meal we typically put that in the fridge (if there’s room). If it’s multiple items we use the glass food storage containers. We’re hoping to get some that have compartments built in so we can store food for lunch the next day. I like these right here, but we haven’t fully committed yet.

With that being said, when it comes to storing things like meat, we’ve been looking at a foodsaver vacuum sealer. I’ve had my eye on this thing for… well, for about a year now. We just never bit the bullet.

After finally bringing our small deep freezer down to the RV from the house we have talked about buying meat in bulk to save money. So the foodsaver would save us lots of freezer burn and heartache

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Top RV Homestead Kitchen Items You Need

image of peppercorns, a spoon and a grinder

Living in an RV or Camper causes you to think outside the box when it comes to kitchen items. Since a lot of people are thinking about ditching their 1500+ square foot homes for the tiny life I thought this post might be nice. I am going to go over some of my favorite RV homestead kitchen items and the ones that are on our wishlist.

Some of the items on our RV homestead kitchen list are also in this post here, but I’ll likely be re-writing that post. I plan to do that really soon with updated content and am going to point the kitchen section to this post.

Because everyone has a wishlist right?

image collage of veggies and fruits

When we first decided to live in an RV rather than renting a house or apartment in town it wasn’t an easy decision. The kids were used to having tons of land to run on and were able to be crazy. Yet, here we were about to confine them in less than 300 square feet of a home.

Thankfully, one of the RV parks we found was situated 3 miles from where my husband worked and it was secluded. I didn’t realize that military installations had campgrounds, much less a place to put an RV. This place has been a big blessing for us the past year and a half. We’re surrounded by trees and we’re a short walk from a pretty good sized lake too.

What doesn’t get made in the kitchen of our RV likely gets cooked on the grill or over the campfire (hello you gorgeous Dutch oven!).

Related Post: 30+ Must Have Items for Homestead Beginners

Top Items For The RV Homestead – What We Have

1 Cast Iron Skillets – These are amazing and everyone should have at least three… or four… or more. I can remember visiting my grandmother and on her kitchen walls, there were countless cast iron items. They’re long-lasting, they are easy to use and clean, they’re the “original” non-stick pan (when used right), and they don’t have harsh chemicals in them. In our kitchen, we have a small, medium, and a large skillet. We have a biscuit pan, cornbread pan, and a griddle. You can never go wrong with cast iron.

2 Water Bath Canning Set  If you’re doing any sort of homesteading, a water bath canning set is a “must have” item. It is great for canning all the lovely produce you can pick up at the farmers market! Not everyone can or wants to garden, but canning is something that, in my opinion, should be done by all. It’s great for preparing for any disaster that might occur. Or for just cutting down on your grocery bill.

3 Mason Jars  What would we do with mason jars? We use them for cups and we use them to can delicious foods. They come in a variety of sizes, shapes and even colors (clear is preferable for me though). We use these for storing leftovers, broth, foods we can or just using on a daily basis. Personally, I love wide mouth jars because they’re easier for me to clean.

4 InstaPot This is one of the best things I’ve bought so far. I can pressure cook frozen chicken and then cook rice all in about 30 minutes. After that, you can wash it and put more stuff in the slow cooker to be ready for the next day. It’s wonderful and I love it so much. Very useful in a small kitchen.

5 Chemex Coffee Maker  We had a Keurig coffee machine to start in our RV(it was a present). Eventually, I got aggravated with how much space it took up and I told my husband I wanted something new. I had seen many people using these cool looking, pour over coffee makers and was enthralled. So, naturally, I just had to get one. I love this thing. It’s easy to use and quick. Making coffee is kind of meditative now as I watch the water drip from the steel mesh into the flask. I picked mine up at WalMart for pretty cheap, and it came with a wire mesh strainer. I don’t have to worry about filters now 🙂 (*queue happy dance*).

image of a chemex

6 Good Knife – A good knife should go without saying. You can’t really cut much with a knife as dull as a butter knife. If you splurge on anything, I would splurge on a really sharp knife. Personally, I use a knife called a santoku, and I think this is the one I have. It’s not chef quality, but with a good sharpening blade/block, you should be good to go.

7 Coffee Grinder  – While coffee grinders are usually used for coffee ours isn’t really used for grinding coffee. We use it to grind spices and salt mainly. But, if you buy coffee beans you can grind the coffee as fine or chunky as you want. We plan to buy beans soon though because our coffee is pretty finely ground and gets in the coffee as it drains. I don’t like that part, but my husband could care less.

8 Mortar & Pestle – This is also great for grinding spices. I have a pretty big mortar and pestle my grandmother bought me as a present from out west. I love it, but often get scared of dropping it on my toe. It’s stone granite of sorts. Very. Heavy. I love it though. Find one you love and you’ll never be unhappy with having it around.

image of a mortar and pestle

9 Food Containers – Storing leftovers is essential. I love glass containers to store my food in so I can reheat it at work. We tossed plastic long ago and haven’t looked back yet.

10 Good Pair of Scissors – Good scissors can never not be a “must have”. We’re always using scissors. Heck, I even use scissors for cutting bacon up to put in our green beans. It’s effective, even if it’s kind of weird. So, they’re useful for a variety of things.

Related Post: Why We’re Transitioning to Become Self-Sufficient

11 Magnet Strip for Knives – This is a life saver. I’ve always been scared of my kids grabbing knives out of the drawers in the camper (hello short drawers). So, rather than freaking out all the time we bought a magnet strip and now the knives just stick to the strip. It’s amazing. Not to mention, it keeps your drawers clear of clutter.

12 Command Hooks – Best. Thing. Ever. We use these for coffee cups, measuring cups, measuring spoons and ladles in the kitchen. They’re amazing. Great for RV’s or small spaces. I usually grab a few packs every so often when I’m in WalMart or Lowes.

13 Kitchen Scale – I use this for recipes that call for specific measurements or if I’m weighing out meats/veggies. I try to portion out our food to help keep from letting things ruin. Again, WalMart had my back with this one thankfully. If you can’t find one at WalMart, this one is close to what I have, not to mention it can measure up to 11lbs.

14 Measuring Cups & Spoons – I don’t know what I’d do without these. I’m not a great eye-baller when it comes to measurements. Maybe I’ll get there down the road, but I’m not there yet. So, they’re my necessities for now. I’m glad they’re small too, and lightweight so I can hang them on command hooks. I like stainless steel for these, mostly because I was tired of the plastic ones breaking or getting cracked.

15 Hand mixer, Blender & Immersion Blender – If you wanted, you could probably downsize and only use one of these if you wanted to, but I like having options. The immersion blender is great for blending soups… it’s amazing. I’m pretty sure I have this set, and it fits great under my sink. The blender is great for smoothies, sauces, and such. We have a Vitamix, but it’s not necessary to go that high tech. Mine was a gift for graduating college (thanks grandpa!). Hand mixers are great for bread, cake, potatoes and whatever other things you might use a hand mixer.

16 Quality Wooden Cutting Board – I definitely prefer woodblock cutting boards over plastic ones. They hold up longer, and that means less plastic in the world. Win-win for me. We’ve tried a glass cutting board… it didn’t go so well. Everything slid all over the place and I got pretty irritated. Needless to say, that pretty class cutting board is now just a decoration. Our board is from WalMart and is from The Pioneer Woman.

image of wood cutting board and cloth

17 Wire Mesh Strainers – These babies are worth their weight in gold, especially the fine mesh kind. They make straining lovely liquid gold (I mean broth) easy. Fine mesh strainers help to catch all the little bits that a larger mesh might miss. Need a tighter mesh? Line it with cheesecloth! They’re good for straining teas, broth, noodles, or anything needing straining really. I want a few more actually.

18 Mixing Bowls – What can I say? Multiple sizes of mixing bowls are a must. If you don’t have multiple sizes then you’re missing out. We own some stainless steel bowls and glass bowls. I don’t have favorites… I love them both.

19 Dutch Oven – I was gifted one of these by my grandmother. And, it was the. Best. Gift. Ever. Seriously, I love that thing. We have this tripod castiron stand we put over our firepit and we’ve cooked many soups in it. I haven’t tried much else yet, it has been kind of reserved for fire cooking. Maybe I need another one?

Related Post: How to Homestead in a Camper or Small Space

Top Items For The RV Homestead – Our Kitchen Wish List

20 Pressure Canner – We plan on buying quite a bit of produce from the farmers market this year. Well, at least we’ll buy what we need to stock our pantry for this year. To do that, we’ll need a pressure canner, and that’s why it’s on our wish list (i.e. get very soon list). With canning season approaching fast, we’re saving up to get one so we are able to can more than tomatoes and jam this season. We’re likely getting the 10.5 pressure canner.

21 Veggie Peeler – I’ve been using a knife to do a lot of my peeling, but sometimes I take a bit more than I intend off of a potato, cucumber or carrot. So, I figure it’s time I get a nice veggie peeler.

22 Grain Mill – I’m not sure which I want more right now, honestly, pressure canner or grain mill. They’re both so helpful in cutting costs. Maybe I’ll get lucky and be able to buy them both at once ;). If you have a suggestion of which we should buy, let me know!

23 FoodSaver System – I want this simply because I’m tired of “freezer” bags not really keeping the food from getting frostbite. So, I’m saving to splurge on this fancy device. I want one that also has the attachment to seal food in jars!

24 MasonTops Fermentation Kit – I’ll be honest, I know that I could do fermentation without all the hullabaloo, but these are nifty. And, I may have ruined my fair share of sauerkraut trying to make it for my husband. It kinda sucks. So, this is on my wishlist too. And, of course, it’s for wide mouth jars.


What are your top RV homestead kitchen items?

Are there some here that you feel I forgot?
Maybe something I’m not aware of and could really use this season?

We’re always looking for items that will make our RV homestead kitchen more efficient, and also cut down on space hoggers.

Here soon we’ll be going over how we’re renovating our RV kitchen and living area. I can’t wait to show you.

image of a kitchen with items on a counter


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Getting Started With Container Gardening

Image of an RV on a hill

We’re going on two years in our RV and this year will be our first getting started with container gardening. I’m pretty excited about this year because of our mini garden last year kind of going caput on us. With all fairness though, it was likely a lack of sun and the area not draining well during a heavy rain season.

Image of a plant in a pot with a name written on it

This year, so far, we have 5 tomato plants and some herbs. I plan to attempt to plant some cucumbers, green beans, and some more tomatoes – can you tell what we eat regularly?

This will likely be a series of posts since we’re just starting this journey ourselves.

Besides these, we’ll be regularly visiting the farmers market on Thursdays to pick up anything we’re not growing. I plan on canning a whole host of things this year to help cut our food bill down. Not to mention, the canned foods will be much healthier than any store-bought kinds.

So, this is what we’re doing this year to get started while we save for a house and land.


How We’re Getting Started With Container Gardening

#1 We’re Starting Small

We talked about growing all sorts of things here, but realistically it’s not going to happen. I’ve come to that realization and I’m not going to stress over “if someone else can do it, then I can” kind of mentality. It’s not worth the brain power or stress.

Focus on what you can handle and start with. We picked the few things we use regularly and are starting there. We may add more here and there, but it will depend on a few things. Some being weather, campground hosts, kids, and animals.

#2 Find A Place With Good Sunlight

Last year our choices of places with sunlight were very limited, and I think ultimately led to our gardens demise. This year, thankfully, we have a space that gets sunlight nearly all day. It was a no-brainer since most of the plants we have need full sunlight to thrive.

So we’ve carved out a place to stick our pots and I’m pretty excited. We have them all lined up in front of our camper.  With the help of our kids, we got them all planted. Now, we just need to be patient, tender, caring and keep them looking their best.

#3 Start Any Seeds Inside

There are a few plants we want to grow, but they’re seeds and not started plants. So, we’ll be starting these inside under a little light on our dining room table. Once they’re big enough we’ll transplant them into their own little pots outside. I’m not sure where or how we’ll hang our light yet, so we’re trying to come up with a plan that won’t cramp our space.

Thankfully, we can move things around so we’re not loading the table down with plants and crowding our only eating area.

I’m hoping the campground hosts and owners won’t complain about our container gardens. We haven’t busted up the ground or messed anything up, so fingers crossed. We are trying to find a non-permanent way to grow cucumbers and green beans right now.

I’m thinking about putting cages around the tomatoes and planting the green beans next to the tomatoes. If I don’t do that I’ll likely just put a cage around the green beans and cucumber pots.

#4 Use Good Soil (if you can afford to get it)

This was one we may or may not have done the right way, but we’ll soon find out. We didn’t have the budget to buy potting soil or garden soil. So, what we did was put really good clay in the bottom of the pots and then traveled into a woody area and took our rake and shovel with us.

If you rake back the leaves and get to the topsoil it’s generally really nice soil. It was nice, fluffy and rich.

Our next goal is to go to a bait shop and grab a good many worms to put in the pots. We don’t really have a place to put a compost, so if you have tips for composting in a camper please let me know.

With all that in place, we’re hoping these plants really take off.

#5 Don’t Overcrowd Your Pots

We’re slowly starting to move things from pots that are crowded to their own pots. I want to have a bountiful harvest this year from my limited garden. So, giving them the best chance of growing without overcrowding is the best option.

I had considered making one huge raised bed garden, but it’s a more permanent fixture and I was certain that would cause issues. The pots are the best way for us to go. But, this old toybox we built (and have since replaced) makes for a really good tiny raised bed garden.

We have regrown romaine lettuce and some green onions inside of it.

You can find used pots from a nursery, or you can buy them pretty cheap from Lowe’s if you’re just getting the plastic ones.

#6 Stay Tuned!!!

Once your container garden is all nice and set the waiting begins. Make sure it’s getting plenty of sunlight, water and that it’s draining well. Without proper drainage, the plants can drown and die. That would be tragic after all of the work you’ve put in to create such a wonderful little container garden.


Image collage of a boy using a hoe and some plants

 

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