Over 180,000 families in America live off-grid. Living in this way takes some excellent organizational skills, as it can be easy to get in a muddle with all the day-to-day tasks. From recycling and composting to planning your gardening year, everything is made easier by some forward thinking. Here are some great ways of getting organized, so that you can enjoy a straightforward and sustainable off-grid life.
Plan Ahead for Your Planting
In America, 35% of families grow at least some of their own food. Growing your own produce takes time and effort, because you are reliant on the weather and the changing seasons. This means that you need to be incredibly organized with your planting and harvesting regimen. For instance, if you are hoping to have raspberries in August, you need to consider planting these in September of the previous year. You will then need to note when you planted your raspberry plants, and the best time for pruning them. Make sure that you keep a gardening journal throughout the year, recording how your crops are growing - this information will be useful for the future and will help you learn from any mistakes.
Use a Gardening App or Website
The National Gardening Association has an online app that calculates a gardening calendar based on your zip code, and websites such as The Garden Helper offer planting guides for those in USDA zones 7 and 8. Alternatively, look for books like The Farmer's Almanac to help you plan and understand the growing year. Pay particular attention to any unusual weather changes in the year that have affected the growth of your crops.
Preserve, Cook and Freeze Your Produce
You may have harvested 200 cherry tomatoes, but it's unlikely that you will want to eat them all within a few days of picking them. Being able to preserve your produce is essential for supplementing your diet throughout the year. Those cherry tomatoes can be cooked into a flavorful sauce that you can jar for later use, or baked into beautiful pies that you can freeze. With every fruit and vegetable you grow, consider how you are going to make the most of it once it has been harvested.
Pickle Your Vegetables
Pickling in vinegar is another excellent way of preserving your produce for later use. If you have jarred your fruits and vegetables in well-sealed sterilized jars, they will last at least a year if stored in a dark, dry pantry. Make sure that you label everything clearly, so you can easily find it again.
Organize Your Fuel Stores
One of the most important parts of living off-grid is being self-sufficient when it comes to heating your home. For many, that means using other fuel sources, such as heating oil or LPG (liquid petroleum gas). Make sure that you choose a cylinder solution has an automatic top-up system, so that you never run out of gas. If you are using solid fuel such as pellets and wood, you should begin stockpiling for winter at the end of the spring, when generally it is cheaper to purchase. Organize your wood and pellets so that you can easily access the driest stores first. Keep a note of how much you use, so that you can order fuel efficiently the following year.
Living off-grid can give you and your family a sustainable and ethical lifestyle. With some good organization, you can move away from chaos and enjoy the fruits of your labor.
Sally Keys is a professional freelance writer with many years of experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.