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Our Homestead,  Plan - Design - DIY

Summer Garden Tour and Homestead Update (Video): July 2023

Welcome! It’s been awhile since we explored the garden together, so let’s do just that! In this post, you’ll find a fresh garden and homestead tour video that highlights what we currently have growing in our summer raised bed garden – including our favorite flower and veggie varieties. I’m also excited to share a few fun updates we’ve made to other parts of the homestead, including a new cane berry patch, chicken run expansion, and beautiful new pollinator orchard on a hill.

So, come wander around and see what’s growing! I’ll share plenty of fun tidbits and tips along the way, plus a little sprinkle of bird nerd action. Last but not least, I’ve included a smattering of my favorite photos of the garden this season below. I love putting these together as a photo-journal for our own reflection, and hope you enjoy taking a peek as well!

Hey! I’m excited to share some of my favorite photos, varieties, and harvests in the main raised bed garden below – but first, let’s have a quick peek at one new project!

The New Berry Patch

One small change we made on the homestead this spring was to create a dedicated space to grow cane berries, including blackberries, raspberries, and ollalieberries (a classic here on the Central Coast of California) – each in their own bed.

Since gophers prevent us from growing directly in the ground, we opted to use Birdies metal raised bed kits for this project and absolutely love them! They’re really high quality, durable, and were a breeze to put together. If you’re interested, code ‘deannacat3’ will save 5% off Birdies raised beds here. We added hardware cloth below for gopher protection, a thick layer of burlap for weed suppression, and finished it off with fresh wood chips and a steel border all around. Up next: build a berry trellis support system!

This was previously just a weedy, unused spot. We were excited to spiff it up for much better use!
Inspector Badger approved.

Summer in the Raised Bed Garden

After a record-breaking wet winter and gloomiest, greyest spring ever, our summer garden got off to a pretty slow start this year. But, she’s booming and blooming now! We’ve been harvesting ample beans, zucchini, leafy greens, carrots, beets, cabbage, basil, and other goodies we planted in late winter to early spring. Not to mention all the stunning companion flowers that are going off! We have yet to harvest any tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, or other warm-weather lovers though.

For a complete list of all the vegetable and flower varieties we planted this spring/summer, see this post. I’ll also link related seeds, grow guides, and other resources in captions of each photo!

Sunset in the garden. Pole beans and snap peas growing up the trellises, though the peas were removed shortly after this photo was taken (they had a lot of powdery mildew and were just about done producing).
After harvesting over 40 artichokes this spring, we decided to leave several to flower for the bees! They have such gorgeous blooms.
This volunteer sunflower (self-seeded, unknown variety) is currently blowing my mind. It’s at least 10 feet tall!
Another gorgeous sunset. The cheery poof of orange is a tangerine gem marigold. We planted several colors of gem marigolds around the garden this year!
I planted more companion flowers than ever this season… and have zero regrets! The various cosmos, gem marigolds, Goldy Double sunflowers and Black Beauty poppies have been especially impressive thus far.
Golden hour glow. We loved using these A-frame trellises off the end of our beds for cucumbers last year, so we did the same with winter squash, melons AND cukes this season.
A July harvest of summer squash, cucumber, beans, carrots, beets, figs, herbs, swiss chard, lettuce, a few berries, and lots of chamomile. (Related grow guides linked)
Playing with the drone
A peek under the Swiss Chard forest
Harvesting carrots is so rewarding! Come watch me harvest these big beauties here, and then learn how to successfully grow your own carrots in this seed-to-table guide.
The chamomile bed was so full and lush this spring – early summer. It’s fading now so we’ll plant another round.
Since we use chamomile and calendula to make organic skincare products for our shop, we grow ALOT. It takes hours to harvest from all the plants several times per week!
Our newest product: chamomile and calendula infused face oil, made with cold-pressed organic jojoba oil. It absorbs really well (not “greasy”) and is amazing for skin irritation, redness, eczema, scars, or general dry skin.
Those backlit Black Beauty poppies tho
You know I had to throw some quail in here! Handsome Mr. Daddy Quail on watch duty.
Baby quail lounging in our new pollinator orchard while mama stands guard. We’ve counted over SIXTY baby quail (5 different groups) so far this season, and I think more just hatched!
The tomatoes are definitely getting a slow start this year, but we harvested the first couple the other day! Still loving our DIY tomato trellis system.
A few early season fruits: figs (honey delight), berries, and our very first Santa Rosa plums!
Red amaranth is fun and new-to-us this season. We’re growing it mostly as an ornamental, and assume the birds will enjoy eating the seeds!
I forgot to take more photos of it, but you can see the fencing for the expanded chicken run area in the background. Now they can hang much closer to us while we’re in the garden, but still have protection from hawks from the trees overhead.
Pole beans, artichokes, snap peas, and chive blossoms.
If you grow chives, you’ve gotta try homemade chive blossom vinegar! It’s so tasty and gorgeous. We have been using it on loaded veggie sandwiches and in egg salad for the last couple of months.
More Black Beauty poppies. Some have more simple, elegant petals while others are double floofy.
Pickin’ pole beans (I needed a stool, ha!). Northeaster is my favorite. They can get super long but stay tender!
The lavender we planted in 2021-22 is growing in with a vengeance! Learn how to grow, harvest, dry and use lavender here.
Clean fountain for the birdies
Plucked a few dill flower heads to make the first easy crunchy refrigerator pickles of the season.
Badger also thinks the Black Beauty poppies are purdy.

The New Pollinator Orchard

A HUGE undertaking we accomplished this winter/spring was creating our new pollinator orchard over on “sandy hill”. We broke ground on the project in January, finished in April, and were able to add over a dozen new fruit trees plus hundreds of native and drought-tolerant plants for pollinators to an otherwise barren, weedy hill on the far side of our property. It has quickly become a thriving ecosystem already – full of native bees, butterflies, lizards, bunnies, quail families and more!

If you missed it, I shared a blogpost and YouTube video with a tour along with the step-by-step by process we took to transform the space: clearing the weeds, creating natural terraces or permaculture berms, using burlap as natural landscape fabric, planting trees, adding mulch, a solar powered drip irrigation system, and more! So, I’ll only share a couple of my favorite shots here.

Before, during, after.
The new orchard area is near the bottom of the photo. This was in April, just after we finished the project. Look how empty the raised bed garden looks then!
The California poppies went OFF this spring! 😍 

Thank you for coming along for the tour!

And that’s a wrap. I appreciate you tuning in for our summer garden tour and homestead update today. I hope it gave you plenty of ideas, inspiration and tips! Please feel free to ask any questions or just say hello in the comments below. See you next time!

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  • Frank Trinkle

    Once again, I’m impressed by what you’ve done and continue to do.

    As I mentioned in a previous mail, I am preparing to do something very similar to what you have done, but with only a 1/4 acre lot to work with next to our new house.

    After watching your latest video and seeing that you have gravel and woodchip walkways, my question is how are you preventing weed growth in those pathways? It might be easier when I get the area figured out in Florida due to the primarily sandy soil, but in Ohio, where I have spent the last couple of years with a large backyard garden, I have had great difficulty with pathway weeds…even after doubling weed fabric as a base and then adding rubber mulch (like kids playgrounds have), on top for the walkways.

    Curious about your solution to not having to spend 1/2 of your time in the garden weeding in the pathways. Help!



    • Aaron (Mr. DeannaCat)

      Hi Frank, thank you so much for the kind words and good luck to you when it comes time to transform your property in Florida! In our raised garden bed area that is graveled, we do have heavy duty landscape fabric (I think it’s DeWitt Weed Barrier 4.1 ounce Woven) underneath, it is very heavy duty and does a great job of preventing weeds from growing up through the fabric itself, however, we do get various weeds that still sprout in the gravel which we have to prune out by hand or with a hoe over time to keep it cleaned up. It is still fairly easy to remove them as they are just rooted in the gravel but it is still something to contend with.

      In our new orchard space that we created, we only used landscape fabric along the pathways on the outside and down the middle of the orchard, all the other areas only have burlap for initial weed suppression and erosion control but it will degrade within a year or two so we will still have to contend with weeds there. We also live in a fairly dry environment and see most of our rainfall over a 3-4 month period so weeds aren’t as troublesome through our drier months compared to Ohio or Florida where you get year round rainfall. Hope that helps and reach out if you have any other questions.

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