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July Garden & Homestead Tour

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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.

July Garden & Homestead Tour

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

July Garden collageMy 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.

veggie gardens

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!

The Chickens

chicken coop and flock

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.

The Barn The Barn

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

back of the passive aggressive houseThe 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!

passive aggressive house

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

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.

Solar Power

solar power

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.

An Oregon Cottage

From Jami at An Oregon Cottage – Summer Garden Harvests and Simple Ways to Enjoy Them

Frugal Family Home

From Shelly at Frugal Family Home – Backyard Garden Growing & Harvesting

Angie Freckled Rose

From Angie The Freckled Rose – July Garden Tour

homemade food junkie
From Diane at Homemade Food Junkie – Summer Garden Tour

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About Michelle Marine

Michelle Marine is the author of How to Raise Chickens for Meat, a long time green living enthusiast and rural Iowa mom of four. An avid traveler, Michelle has lived on three different continents and has driven all four kids across the entire USA (by herself!). She loves sharing farm-to-table recipes, their family travel adventures, and gardening and homesteading tips on her popular lifestyle blog, SimplifyLiveLove.com.


  1. blankBeth Ann Chiles says

    Well that was a really fun tour of your place! Thanks! I love all of your energy efficient living ideas and those chickens…those chickens are awesome. Thanks for sharing!

  2. blankShelly says

    We’ve been slowly making our home more energy efficient with new windows, insulation in the walls, LED lights in almost the whole house now and we are thinking about trying to harness the wind for power. We will see how that goes, it would be nice since we get lots of east wind from the Columbia River Gorge most of the year.

    I loved reading about your garden and how things are coming along with your home too.

  3. blankDiane says

    Michelle, I would LOVE to spend day at your farm. It’s so pretty and you have a huge number of project I’m interested in learning more about. I am going to have to read more of your posts and catch up! If you need a natural brown dye, your black walnuts are PERFECT!

  4. blankHadia says

    I so enjoyed reading your post, Michelle. I so love the way you live and Kids’ Forest is such a great place for kids to have a wonderful time.

  5. blankJoy @ Joy Love Food says

    Wow, your home and land is amazing and beautiful! How wonderful that you are able to grow your own food and produce your own energy, so incredible and such a great way to raise your family!

  6. blankNicky says

    Your garden looks fantastic! Mine is suffering from heat and squash bugs that I didn’t catch in time. The house is really coming along.

  7. blankKristi says

    Wow!!! Everything you are doing is something my husband and I dream of doing. We recently purchased 15 acres and are trying to figure out how best to use it and build an energy efficient home that isn’t reliant on much!

    I am so excited to find your blog!

  8. blankCrystal says

    Thank you for the tour. I’m glad to hear you didn’t lose your whole crop to Round Up.
    It must be amazing to watch the transformations on your homestead in person.

  9. blankAndrea says

    Your place is absolutely gorgeous! I recently moved into an apartment and I miss having a garden so much! I will live vicariously through your beautiful pictures 🙂

  10. blankJacqueline says

    Wow, I am so impressed! I haven’t heard of moving a barn, but that barn was definitely worth it! What a beauty. I grew up in Wisconsin and red barns were the mainstay! I get a little nostalgic seeing this! Your property is stunning! You have done an amazing job in 7 years!

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