On the Homestead Late April 2020

I just posted photos a few weeks ago. But already our landscape has changed so much that I wanted to share a new update.

Also, frankly, this is the first spring we’ve had that was near perfect in terms of plant development. We’ve had a few hot days, but they remained at or below 80F. We had one storm drop 4 inches of rain in a matter of hours. But, thankfully, our landscape is now developed enough to absorb up to 7-8 inches in a few hours. Otherwise, we’ve had rain roughly 2-3 times a week, at rates that were perfect to eliminate the need for watering young plants.

I don’t know when (or if) we’ll get these conditions again, so I just wanted to document this pristine spring. Here goes.

Until recently, we never closed our driveway gate. Now, as we self-isolate in response to COVID-19, we keep it closed to discourage uninvited guests.


Our spring fed pond is to the right in the photo above. To the left, we have a drainage pipe that runs under the driveway to keep the water flowing on in the creek behind our house. There’s a little waterfall area on the slope with beautiful sound. I plan to add a small Japanese/fern garden and seating area adjacent to this in the future. Even without any help from me, though, nature has made this a lovely, relaxing spot.

Uphill from this area is an area with young fruit trees that I am retrofitting with vegetable beds and more edible landscape plants. I recently added a scarecrow to discourage deer and our two dogs have been doing the rounds as well.

Just above that area before you reach the house is the Simplestead garden. That’s my demo garden for my other blog Simplestead.com. I originally planned to use it as a spice garden this year. However, in light of COVID-19, I’m using it demonstrate how a potager garden can be scaled up and used to grow calorie crops instead. I planted poppies there last fall, so I left them.  I also have some coriander going to seed. But my other grand plans for a spice garden will have to wait until we feel comfortable going to the grocery store again.

Across the driveway from those two garden areas is my duck and buck (male goat) zone.  There are fruit trees in that area and another new planting bed going in that area as well. I also grow all my common plantain (for my asthma tea) there because ducks won’t eat it. Our mushroom grotto is in that area.

A neighbor recently gave us a truck load of pine needles he raked from his driveway.  They made the perfect mulch for my duck house path.

Next comes our house. To the right of the house we have a mature orchard area. There’s also cold-hardy kiwi and wineberries on the side of the house.  In the front, I have a raised bed with a grape vine and a honeyberry surrounded by oregano. Our rain barrels are on the corners of the house. I  have a rosemary, hyssop, and lavender bed against the house to create a warm zone for those heat loving plants.

Across from the house is our outdoor dining and living area. It’s landscaped with edibles and pollinator attracting plants so we have constant visits from butterflies, songbirds, skinks, and more while we relax.

Our main garden is next to the dining area. That garden is surrounded by goat pasture on two sides and a chicken run on the other.  I also added a duck area inside the garden this year to create a weed barrier between the goat pasture and the garden. They also fertilize the aronia berries and mirabelle plums in front of their run. Plus, I just love to have the ducks near when Matt and I enjoy our weekend cocktails in the garden.

You’ll also see the snail bed and mulched herb areas in the slideshow below. They’ll start to look a lot more exciting by about mid-June when we get some heat and my herbs explode!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Out our back door, between the garden up to the greenhouse, we have a terraced food forest area with hugelkulturs and a vineyard. Our workshed, solar container, and smokehouse are in that region too.

Finally, the greenhouse is at the top of our cultivated property next to our irrigation pond. We had a leak in the pond so it wasn’t filling up to the top. Matt recently fixed it, but now we’re waiting for another one of those 4 inch rains to fill it up. Once it fills up, we’re going to do more landscaping up there and add a floating plant island to the pond. I’ve included some views around that area too.

Even though we’ve been actively working towards this transformation with truck loads of organic matter and strategic planning and planting, it’s still hard to believe that this is what our place looked like just a little over 6 years ago.

If you look carefully at the before photos, I’ll bet you can find some of those landmarks — like the driveway, the house, the work shed, and the goat barn — in the after photos for reference.

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