Growing right along!   Taking a break for a few minutes from the massive canning production going on at the urban homestead kitchen.  Love seeing all those comments btw.  Great to see such reader participation.

Here’s snapshots from our summer garden.

But first, here’s the dirt.  The guys are hard at work turning over the spring crops for the summer vegetables.  Hey, guys, not as much eggplant as last year please! *grin* Congrats on the awesome carrot harvest !   Carrots are coming in by the basket full!  Best carrot harvest – EVER!  Sweet.

Right now we are trying to keep ahead of those  harlequin bugs.  Remember we had a plague of them 2 years ago?  That was the first massive infestation we have seen in our 25 years growing food here in the city.  There are a  few running around but so far no infestation this year, or is it too early to say so?

Thanks to the ‘normal’ overcast June morning weather (in which we local yokels call “June Gloom”) we are trying to keep the disease at bay   Seems like these days, plants are more susceptible to the change in the weather.   Don’t ask me why but I bet there’s a slew of environmental factors.

Though it’s still rather cool in the mornings and evening we are moving the self watering container boxes (Resource: Build Your Own SWC) filled with leafy greens into the shade One thing I must say about self watering containers, being mobile as they are they really do wonders at extending our growing season.  With these mobile containers we are able to have a bit more control over their environment.      We did another successful soil block sowing (pics & post coming soon!)

How’s your garden growing?  What sorts of problems are you experiencing.  Is it wacky weather, bad bugs, what ails your garden?

How many newbie gardeners are there?  Is this your first year growing your own?

Once again: remember, the nifty garden hat Justin is modeling (grin), ollas (clay pot irrigation) or the sturdy wire basket can be purchased online at our store.   Looking for seeds that we are using at our little farm in the city?  We have, er sell, those too!  All purchases help keep this site growing and going!

Pesto time

Grapes hanging from the chicken/duck house

Working in the garden, it's wide brim hat time!

Picking salad

Clay pot irrigated bed and cucumbers

More baby beans

Pumpkin nestled among the nasturtiums

Baby winter squash. So cute!

Strawberries, so luscious

Praying manti helps keep the bad bugs away

Picking mizuna

Another shot of coop

Front yard food production. The culinary and medicinal herb garden

Backyard intensive garden

Summer greens

Pink yarrow

Summer wildflowers

Harvesting more carrots

Flowering fennel, the bees just love the flowers

More pictures coming soon, stay tuned for another “Around the Urban Homestead


  1. Dog Island Farm says:

    I love your garden layout, but how wide are your paths? They look narrow, which I prefer but we rely heavily on our wheelbarrow to get supplies back and forth on our 1/4 acre. I’m just wondering if your paths are conducive to wheelbarrow use?

    • Anais says:

      @Dog Island Farm: Yep they are narrow and we don’t even own a wheelbarrow. We have a joke that our paths are “one foot” Literally enough to walk one foot in front of the other! LOL.

  2. Monica says:

    I am so in love with seeing all your amazing photos – they inspire me! This is my first year growing proper raised beds and experimenting with square inch gardening. My Dad thinks I’m doing it all wrong but my first spinach harvest this year has proven that it is the only way to go for me! Wasted space in a garden bothers me ; )

    I’m a single mom (to a 5 year old boy who is LOVING learning about growing our own food by the way) and own my own house with a decent-sized yard (much the same as yours). I recently received an inheritance so I paid off my mortgage instead of buying a newer/’nicer’ home due to all the growing space I have here. All the new houses have micro-lots with a tiny strip of grass, blech! Anyway, after finding you guys on the lovely internet, I’m definitely here on my property to stay – so inspired by your way of life.

    I plan to add a greenhouse/bed covers to grow through the winter (I live in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada) and can see myself adding a LOT more edibles to my garden. I’d love to add some chickens too, maybe some rabbits also for enjoyment and manure of course!

    This year I have added a lot of new fruit to the yard which will take some time to establish. Next year I’ll add more beds, trying to get creative with vertical space, etc. I’m getting lots of ideas from your photos – thank you! Very grateful that you post so much wonderful info on your website. I love your family!!!

    • Anais says:

      @Monica: Thanks, glad you enjoyed the latest batch of pictures and a warm welcome to you – and your son! We don’t like to see dirt either! Wishing you all the best on your journey and looking forward to hearing updates from your homefront. Like I said glad you enjoyed the photos because sometimes we are just too darn busy to write and figure that “a picture speaks a thousand words” anyways so that’s why we keep those photos coming! Have a wonderful day,

  3. Jeni says:

    I just have to say thank you for inspiring so many to get back to what this country was built on hard work and getting your hands a little dirty! You continue to inspire me day after day!!! I live in Utah and with this really bizarre weather we have been having I have a feeling our harvest will be much later this year…better hit the farmers market just in I would love to see your guys layout in person one day it looks so amazing from all your stunning photos you take, but I understand you need your privacy. I just love how you guys do not let any square inch go to waste!! I have been gardening for 3 years now and you guys have taught me so much about not wasting space and eating in season (along with Food Inc) any way enough of me babbling thanks for being who you are and for not being afraid of doing what you love!!! Happy Gardening!!:)

    • Anais says:

      @Jeni: Thank you for the positive comments. Hearing from folks like yourself really make our day. Sorry to hear about the wacky weather. Seems that wacky weather is the norm these days. Thanks for sharing with us. We wish you a productive and bountiful year. All the best on your journey

  4. Monica says:

    Thanks Anais : )

    I have always wanted to live a simple life and go back to a quality of life that seems to be missing from modern-day. Growing our own food and building a life based on that is the best way to improve the quality of life – I am sure of this now : ) I applaud your efforts in reaching out to others through your website and blog. I wanted you to know how valuable your photos are (both in the food prep/recipes, and growing, etc.) so I truly appreciate the time you all have taken to do all of this!

    I will keep you posted about how things go in my solo-person urban homestead journey (not that my son isn’t a person but, you know, he can only do so much!)

    • Anais says:

      @Monica: As Farmer D likes to say ” a step backwards is progress.” We too struggle on a daily basis to simplify our lives. In fact simple living is not simple at all. It is a daily struggle against the tide/or mass of modern culture that has disconnected us with our food, family and environment. There’s more photos coming so stay tuned. All the best!

  5. Vicki Schoenwald says:

    My garden is just starting to kick into gear. We had an extreme spring with wintry temps,and then bad t-boomers with hail, I’m in Nebraska, so my garden won’t be canning ready until probably mid July. I have been doing some drying of herbs, and starting pesto this weekend after farmers market.
    My peppers are doing so-so, my Poblanos are doing well, and some of my other hotties, but my garden salsa peppers have been hit with aphids, and we have had over 10-12 in of rain over a few weeks time, which is our yearly total, generally, so it is a combination of weather, and temps for us.
    Anais, your garden looks stellar, keep up with your canning, and don’t get “Canned” in the process…LOL

    • Anais says:

      @Vicki Schoenwald: Hello Vicki. First I want to thank you for the card. Truly touched our hearts. We miss our Amy but are blessed that we have other wonderful critters to take care of and are enjoying their company and companionship every day.
      We could use some of that rain. Wish you could send some of that our way. We haven’t had any participation for a couple months and probably won’t see a drop of rain (if we are lucky) sometime in Nov or Dec. So glad you are enjoying the photos. I did lots of canning this week – pacing myself so I won’t get “canned” 😉

  6. Kimberly says:

    Absolutely love, love, love the new pictures of the garden! Sweet!

    • Anais says:

      @Kimberly: Thanks. Glad you enjoyed them, there’s more on the way.

  7. Liz says:

    This is my first year with a proper garden and my goal is to get more and more self-sustainable every year. Right now I have about 100 square feet of raised bed space and a few potted herbs, but I’m packing in as much as I can. Glad I found you guys on the Interwebs – it’s great to get pointers and ideas from someone who has been doing this for a while!

    The only casualty to bugs so far this year is one head of lettuce….knock on wood….

    • Anais says:

      @Liz: Thanks for sharing your gardening ventures. Wishing you a bountiful and productive year – without too many BUGS!

  8. CandaceZ says:

    I don’t post often but wanted to say you guys and gals are amazing and so inspiring. I don’t know how you do it all and make everything look so effortless. I look forward to reading your blog each day and sometimes at work it’s just the break I need to help me get through the day. Your blog helps keep me focused on my goal of learning the self-sufficient skills I need to one day leave my job and focus on what’s important to me full time. We now have 4 chickens and our 1st bee hive, but not without first doing extensive research and learning about both. My husband and I took a beekeeping class and have mentors who are guiding our beekeeping experience. Last year was the first time I’ve ever canned, and I love it! I am a fairly new gardener and my biggest disappointment this year is the loss of all of my yellow squash and zucchini plants to squash vine borers. I’ve replanted the zucchini so hopefully I can keep a closer eye this time. I would say my biggest hurdles are lack of rain and all of the trees in my neighbors’ yards, both sides. Thanks for what you do. You touch so many lives in so many ways.

    • Anais says:

      @CandaceZ: Well, we are glad you posted! We appreciate folks leaving comments, hearing about their journey and just sharing amongst kindred spirits. Well, we’ve been at this urban homesteading thing for 25 years and it does take a LOT of work. But we LOVE it. Thanks for taking time to share what steps you have taken and the problems you have encountered along the way. We can understand about the rain (it hasn’t rained in months and we probably won’t see a drop till Nov or Dec) As for trees, one of our neighbors tree is HUGE and cuts our afternoon sunlight. Not good for our tomatoes and other summer crops. The last few years their huge tree has affected our harvest. We love trees but we sure do wish this one would just die!

  9. Alli says:

    This is proving to be a difficult year for us in our gardening efforts.We have a fenced garden with raised beds-lined with wire mesh on the bottom to control gophers, and surrounded with 3′ high mesh 1/4’grid. Critters- rabbits, squirrels, and crows have eaten EVERYTHING I have planted except some of my Tomatoes. I am really at my wits end. Do I have to plant everything in a 6 sided cage? Any Ideas? WE live in the Temecula area.

    • Anais says:

      @Alli: Sorry to hear about your critter troubles. Though, we have our fair share of gardening problems, thankfully we don’t have any such problems! We have a friend and farmer that’s near your area (Corona), he too has problems with critters. He and other gardeners are listed on our free social network Perhaps you can post on the message board there to see if folks can help give you some suggestions. Good luck.

  10. Jordanne says:

    Great pictures, Anais.

    • Anais says:

      @Jordanne: Thanks, but I think you may have taken a few too! Never know who has got the camera these days. The more pics the better

  11. Kristina says:

    Hello – I have just found your site and am becoming increasingly obsessed!! I’m new to food growing, only still in the first year of making a real effort at it, and all we have growing right now is spinach, kale, swiss chard, some lettuce and lots of LOVELY broccoli (really amazing for my first ever attempt!!!). I should mention that I am in Australia, and that it’s winter. Our worst problems are rats and birds. We’ve netted a lot of the bird’s favorite foods, but this summer I lost almost all my heirloom tomatoes to rats. Possums haven’t been a problem yet, but I suspect they’ll find their way here eventually. It’s soooo depressing, but I’ll keep at it until I figure out what works! Thanks for your great stories and pictures!

    • Anais says:

      @Kristina: Hello and a warm welcome to you. Sounds like you got a good little gardening growing – congrats on taking the first steps to grow your own. Sorry to hear about the critter troubles. Anyone have any suggestions? We started a free social network for gardeners at I believe there are quite a few folks from Australia, perhaps you should post on the message board there to see if anyone has any good ideas to combat all those critters. Good luck and happy gardening.

  12. Cherry says:

    Hi there, Love the photos. we are in the beginning of winter, but I have planted cauliflowers, silverbeet, brussel sprouts, brocolli and for the first time in YEARS garlic. I think (hope) that the reason the plants threw up decent shoots but not an actualy garlic at the bottom may have been from planted cloves from the supermarket. This year i have grown local (Hawkes bay) organic garlic and a general NZ garlic. I am crossing my fingers. Surely grown locally will help??I LOVE your chook house. Just want to have one like it soley for the poultry or do you multiuse it. it makes our Pluckingham Palace like micro sized.
    Thanks for the inspiration
    Crafty cherry

    • Anais says:

      @Cherry: Kia Ora! We recently came back from a trip to New Zealand – attended the REEL EARTH FILM FESTIVAL (they were showing our film Homegrown Revolution) and then we visited the homestead were I was born in Stafford (right near Hokitika)
      Well, what I am trying to say is – it was COLD and rainy while we were there! I still have yet to post pics about our travels. There’s just so much things going on these days. Hopefully you will have better luck with garlic this year. Keep trying. Our first attempts at growing garlic weren’t too good either. We love our chook house too. We also store the chicken/duck feed and a few other things in there.

  13. Dan says:

    Love the blog!
    Just a technical question – do you make your own soil/ fertilizer for your ‘self-watering containers’? I have used a homemade one for a few years, I don’t like buying fertilizer and potting soil every year (well, I don’t replace potting soil every year – but you know what I mean).

    Thanks again for great site!

    • Anais says:

      @Dan: Yes, we make our own “homegrown” soil mix. Thanks to our backyard barnyard, millions of worms and about 10 compost systems we are able to replace our potting soil every year with a fresh batch of new soil
      Thanks for the positive comments.

  14. Kris Mo says:

    GREAT photos! Your family is so inspiring, and has been a major contributing factor to my own backyard farm project. I even started a blog this spring, and I’m loving the feeling of pride and accomplishment that comes with growing my own, and then sharing ideas and inspiration to help friends do the same. You’re pioneers, and I’m sure that more and more folks will look to you for guidance in the years to come. Way to go!

    • Anais says:

      @Kris Mo: We are glad our own project has helped you break new ground of your own. Every year thru failures and success we grow along with our garden and it’s great to see others get their hands dirty and reconnect with the food and land. Wishing you a bountiful and productive year.

  15. Stacy says:

    We have had a problem with stink bugs which I believe are very close relatives to the harlequin bug. The only thing we can do is to pick them off. My husband has also started to use a hand held low power vacuum to suck them up. It works really great so far we have gotten about 50 in the last couple days. Then he takes the thing apart carefully to not let any of them loose and dunks the collector part in a pail of soapy water to kill them. It has really made a difference. I would be out there more often to get them (because it is kind of fun!) except the mosquitos are stalking me!

    • Anais says:

      @Stacy: Good idea about the vacuum. Have to have Justin read/see this! LOL. Whatever works right and such ingenuity. Oooh, I remember mosquitoes – big as birds they were there in Florida/Louisiana. 😉

  16. Taya says:

    Harvested our first three Methley plums today! Our fruit trees went in late fall 2008, so we just have “teaser” fruit this year. Learning how to deal with the bugs — squash vine borers and squash bugs, flea beetles, grasshoppers… among others, of course! Every time I find a slug or snail I mutter “need a duck.” We had a little rain yesterday, but it has been more than a month since we have seen significant rainfall. There has been rain in our general area, but it skips our homestead. The rain barrels are on the never-dwindling to-do list. Currently prepping for our next major planting in about a week, including some of your Amish paste tomatoes (seedlings look great!) and tromboncino squash! Thanks for sharing so much information, so many pictures, and stories! Have a blessed week!

    • Anais says:

      @Taya: Love PLUMS. Looking forward getting some from a friend this year. Bugs are a constant menace here on the urban homestead. We try to stay on top of things but sometimes the bad bugs win and when that happens we just turn over/compost the crop and start again. Glad to hear the Amish paste tomatoes are looking good. Amish paste are a great sauce tomato. The squash is just coming in now, so will have to incorporate a LOT more squash in our meals. 😉 Happy sowing and growing!

  17. Andrea says:

    The garden pics are so lovely! I don’t know how you keep the bugs away. I’m doing great with the tomatoes, peppers, lettuces, and cucumbers, but my root veggies are riddled with bugs, and the squash vine moths destroy my squash every year. This year I ordered beneficial nematodes and I’m still having problems. I don’t know what else to do with the soil. We are thinking about removing soil in four boxes this year and starting over, but it’s so darn expensive and we are broke. I am making compost as fast as I can, but we have ammended those boxes every year with city compost, to no avail. I don’t know what else to do to increase my beneficials under the ground. I have great worms so something is going right, just can’t keep the root maggots and wire worms out! Do you have any suggestions? I talked to Justin a bit about it, but I need more help. Oh! Almost forgot, we planted five tomatoes in the front yard this year! It’s small, but I’m trying to break the neighbors in gradually! 😉


    • Anais says:

      @Andrea: Oh we GOT bugs all right! Just when the bag bugs seem to be winning the good bugs take over so it’s critical that we don’t jump in too soon; however, if a crop seems to be too infested we just turn it under. Glad to hear that you are winning on some of the produce front. Hey Justin if you are reading these comments, perhaps you can help! Neato, glad to hear about the front yard farming venture. Wishing you all the best, keep us posted.

  18. Mike says:

    Hey LHIC, LOVE what you’ve got going on there, and the way you share so much of it through your online presence! Kudos!

    This is year 2 of planting a small veggie garden in our inner city 1/2 acre or so. We just planted a week or so ago given our zone 5 cool weather (although everything is about 3wks ahead this year… could’ve planted earlier) and the lettuce & spinach is already up.

    Started our own little homestead journey 3 yrs ago when we got 3 laying hens, to which were gradually added a couple more, as well as some coturnix quail. Between those birds alone we are over-supplied with eggs & it’s great.

    Getting back to, with my kids, things that were just a way of life when I was growing up near my grandparents. So few people do this stuff, but EVERYBODY that comes by thinks that it’s so cool.

    • Anais says:

      @Mike: Hi there! Thank you for the positive comments. We are blessed that we are able to share and inspire folks like yourself who are traveling along the same path. Thank you for sharing steps of your journey with us. Good to hear from kindred spirits who are striving to reconnect with their food and reclaim their life.

  19. Stephani Predovich says:

    great luck as consumers

  20. Carlo Bassi says:

    I see that you grow everything in boxes in the garden to you have plans for said boxes or do you know any resource I could get such plans. Love what your family is doing the world needs more people like you!

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