Happy Tuesday! And welcome to the Tuesdays in the Garden! I always love to peek inside other people’s worlds and today I’m sharing a bit of mine with a quick tour of our home.
If this is your first time here, welcome! I’m Michelle your friendly blogger. I live on 5 acres in rural Eastern Iowa with my husband and four kids. We grow a large garden, make our own electricity with the help of grid-tied solar panels, raise chickens for eggs and meat, and live in a super energy efficient house we’ve been building for the last three years. We also have 4H rabbits and Great Pyrenees dogs. Our homestead is a work in process – a labor of love if you will. We’ve got a lot of work yet to do, but we’ve come really far in the seven years we’ve owned it. Enjoy this tour of my gardens and our little five acre homestead!
July Garden & Homestead Tour
My garden is about 60′ x 40′ in size and I plant crops directly in the ground as opposed to using raised beds. I grow mostly heirloom veggies that I start from seed in my home or plant directly in my garden. This year, I’ve got a Three Sisters Garden for the second year in a row, a bunch of unique tomatoes, carrots, sweet potatoes, regular potatoes, zucchini, watermelon, Halloween pumpkins, beans, okra, and cucumbers. I’m also growing a lot of different brassicas including broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, and brussel sprouts, onions and garlic.
Every year I have different challenges with my garden. In years past, I’ve been defeated by cucumber beetles and lost entire cucurbit crops to them. This year, my garden was the victim of round-up drift from the neighboring commercially farmed commodity crops. I honestly thought my garden wouldn’t survive, but luckily, it seems to have bounced back for the most part. I planted a lot of my garden late this year as I was waiting to see if the garden would survive the round-up drift, so I’m still waiting on most of my harvests. I’m also losing a battle with the cabbage worms. Next year I MUST cover my brassicas. While we haven’t harvested a lot from the garden so far, we have managed to pick spinach, lettuce, sweet peas, cabbage, strawberries, and broccoli. I was excited to find baby tomatoes this weekend and I’m ready for zucchini too!
Chickens are a great way take more control of your own food supply. They’re not that hard to raise and they’re a lot of fun to watch! We’ve got about 80 chickens and four ducks right now for meat and eggs. 24 are meat birds and this is the second time we have raised chickens for meat. I started with 25 but sadly lost one to unknown forces – most likely other chickens. I also have three different ages of egg layers. I’m not supposed to have that many birds or three different ages but I ordered chickens from Farm & Fleet and they messed up my orders this year. I essentially got extra birds that I didn’t really want for free and I couldn’t turn them down. I also didn’t want roosters and think I’ve got two new guys in my flock.
When we bought our acreage about seven years ago, the only building on the property was a silo. Everything else had been torn down and burned or buried. Over the years, we’ve moved three old buildings to our property including our round-topped barn which we even lived in for over two years while we built our house. Moving the barn was quite the event and you can read about it here. The barn now houses a shop and offices for our home building / remodeling company, Oak Tree Homes.
In addition to the barn, we also moved a little garden shed here in 2012 . It’s a super cute little shed and is often the backdrop for my blog photos. My husband also carted out my chicken coop as my mother’s day present several years ago!
The Passive-Aggressive House
The Passive-Aggressive House is coming along. One of my biggest frustrations since moving in last September has been the lack of closets, but Dan’s been installing them all spring and is almost done. Now, I’m waiting on shading for this huge south facing window that is really our furnace. Hopefully next summer we will build a patio along the wall and enjoy some outdoor time before the bugs get too bad!
We’re also working on the boardwalk deck on the front of the house and once that’s finished I might be able to do a little landscaping. I’m hopeful that the house will look quite a lot different next year with a lot of pretty landscaping. The kitchen is mostly finished and once the remaining closets are completed, I will be able to finally put away our things and we might get a little order in the house!
The Kids’ Forest
This is the area we call the Kids’ Forest. It’s a new name, coined today. LOL! It houses the kids’ fort, trampoline, and some huge tires for climbing around on and enjoying. We have a ton of black walnut trees on this side of the homestead. I was initially really excited about them because I love English walnuts, but black walnuts are NOT the same. I harvested them one year and we all thought they were disgusting – they reminded me of turpentine. I’m not sure if I did something wrong, but I don’t think so because I bought black walnuts once and they tasted the same. YUCK! And what a disappointment.
Last but not least, I thought I’d share our solar panels with you! Our 7 KW grid-tied system was a gift from my parents. We installed it last year and they produce a good portion of the electricity we use. Our house is all electric and we’re thrilled to produce our own clean energy.
And that’s it for now! Maybe one day I will share the inside of the Passive-Aggressive House. I hope you enjoyed this tour of our home. Keep reading for the amazing Tuesdays in the Garden posts!
Tuesdays in the Garden
And now it’s time for Tuesdays in the Garden. I hope you will hop over and check out the posts my gardening blogger buddies have shared today! They always have amazing content for you.
From Jami at An Oregon Cottage – Summer Garden Harvests and Simple Ways to Enjoy Them
From Shelly at Frugal Family Home – Backyard Garden Growing & Harvesting
From Angie The Freckled Rose – July Garden Tour
From Diane at Homemade Food Junkie – Summer Garden Tour