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Learn more about having your own backyard garden, a flock of chickens, and modern homesteading inside The Millennial Garden.
Inside The Millennial Garden: May 2018
For so long I have wanted to share with you what is inside my garden, but I let my perfectionism keep me from moving forward last year. But very much like gardens and Mother Nature, there is no such thing as perfection. There will never be a perfect photo or a perfect way to put it all together, but over time I have learned that is the beauty of it all.
So each month, I will be bringing you a photo diary of what is going on inside The Millennial Garden. It is amazing to see how much can change in such a short period of time.
Here in Upstate New York, Spring got off to a late start and we saw snow the first few days of May. That is why it is even more mind-blowing that these pictures were taken during the third week of May, showing just how much can change in three weeks.
From brown, cold, bitter and soggy wet, to vibrant, lush, green abundance – Spring is the perfect opportunity to stop and soak in just how truly amazing Mother Nature is.
This is the fifth year my husband and I will be tending to our garden. I always tell people who are interested in starting a garden of their own that it is a labor of love and a true test of patience. But, if you can be patient, and diligent, you will begin to see the fruits of your labor in a way you never have before.
Fruits & Vegetables
Our big vegetable garden still sits untended. Here in Upstate New York, we have unpredictable weather, and as we learned this year, it is not uncommon to see snow in May. That is why it is always cautioned that you never, ever want to plant any annual vegetables (think tomatoes, zucchini, green beans) before Memorial Day.
However, the perennials, or the plants that grow back year after year, have already started to grow and we have even harvested our first few pounds of asparagus.
It takes two years for an asparagus plant to become fruitful, and this is the first year we have had a significant harvest. My husband gets all the credit on this one, he carefully crafted and tended to this asparagus patch for the past two years.
If you have never had asparagus fresh from the ground, you are missing out on one of the most delicious, sweet and delicate tastes you’ve ever tasted. It tastes a million times better than anything you’ve ever purchased from the grocery store.
And if you’ve never seen it grow before, let me tell you, it happens fast. Within a day, one asparagus spear can be as high as your knee, and sometimes I swear you can see it growing right before your eyes.
Asparagus is over as quickly as it starts, and we will be enjoying another week of fresh harvested asparagus before it dies down again.
These beautiful strawberries have a mind of their own. We originally purchased 100 plants two years ago to try in a vertical growing tower, but for some reason that didn’t work.
We transplanted all of those runners into the ground, and somehow, over the past year, they have continued to spread all over the garden. Be careful where you step, there is likely a strawberry plant beneath your feet!
Our cultivated raspberry patch which has been on the property for well over 20 years is going great. This year, I’ve been working to try and transplant some of the wild black raspberry plants that are growing in the woods closer to the house. I have been planting them all around the chicken coop for a cool looking effect, and as a plus, the chickens will enjoy the berries just as much as we will.
And just like in life, weeds are everywhere. It’s all about finding the beauty in them.
I have to thank my mom for my love for flowers. She is a Certified Master Gardener and has taught me everything I know about gardening. Some of my earliest memories are with her and my sister, always in the garden, while she worked and we played. We had ‘secret gardens’, we made ‘potions’ and concoctions of all sorts.
It truly was the best way to grow up.
Which is why I want to pass down the wonder and mystery of a garden to my son Ransom. When we moved to our house 5 years ago, there were no gardens. So, over time, we dug out flower beds and my mom brought plants from her garden over, one by one, to help me make my gardens.
One of the coolest, most beautiful garden flowers, is an Allium, aslo known as a flowering onion.
These giant purple fluff balls are part of the same family as onions, garlic, and shallots, but this version remains un-edible. Click here to learn more about these beauties.
Lilacs are by far my most favorite Spring flower. Their scent is so beautiful. light, airy and fragrant. Stepping outside during late May is like stepping into the most beautiful smelling Yankee Candle store ever.
Lilacs are a symbol in Rochester New York, also lovingly referred to as The Flower City. Every year during this third week in May the local Rochester Lilac Festival takes place, and it is almost like everyone comes out of hibernation from a dark, cold winter to enjoy the sights and smells of Spring again.
I am lucky enough to have two, ginormous and very old, lilac trees on the property. One is a light purple with a delicate scent, while the other is dark purple with a less fragrant smell to it. Either way, I love them dearly and love to cut huge lilac bouquets and bring them inside to make my home smell amazing.
Every year we buy annuals, or plants that only live for one season, to decorate various flower boxes and flower pots around the property. And every year, I buy pink petunias. As a little girl, I always remember my dad calling me petunia, and my love for this beautiful flower has never left.
On the Farm
There is a lot of history on the land that I live on. My three year old son, Ransom, is the fifth generation to live in our home and to grow up on this land. He is named after his great-great grandfather Ransom Backus. My father-in-law lives with us on our property, so it is always great to have him around to ask questions about the history of the land.
This is the view looking directly out from the front of our house. Just a step across the road are big, beautiful fields that the farmer across the road uses to plant crops like corn, wheat and soybeans.
A new farmer has moved into town and started plowing the fields across the street, which is good news for us. The great part of living in a small community is knowing a lot of people, and luckily we know our new farm neighbors well. This year we’ve gotten more adventurous to go across the road and do some exploring.
Across the street are these huge, old barn foundations which are all that is left from an old Backus homestead left abandoned many years ago (like 70+ years ago). The story has it that Ransom and his wife Georgie lived here and experienced a house fire that burned their home to the ground.
Almost all of my neighbors are Backuses, and the family roots remain deep here. The road across the street from mine is literally Backus road.
So when their house burned down, the story goes that part of the bigger, original Backus homestead was detached from the house and rolled over to where my house sits now. Yes, my house is a hand-me-down house – and I think it is fascinating.
Back over on our side of the property, Ransom roams our nearly 3 acre property in his gator. My dad picked it up on the side of the road last year for $50, and let me tell you, it is the best $50 anyone has ever spent. He LOVES this thing!
The Love for my Chickens
There is Miss. Zebra looking all sassy. This is after I laughed at her, watching her jump a foot in the air to get a green leaf off a tiny tree.
This is Miss Heidi. All of my chickens have a special place in my heart, I love them so much more than I ever imagined I would. We have had all six chickens for over a year, and after the initial set-up, I was pleasantly surprised that they are relatively clean and easy to care for.
One of the great things about living on a lot of land is the opportunity to explore. We have been keeping an eye on this bird nest for weeks. It started with three blue robin eggs. Then there were two. And then one day there was just one lone egg. A few days later, to our surprised, this little buddy hatched. Only 4 days later he is twice the size and has almost all of his feathers.
Mom is none to excited when we come around, but checking on this little baby robin is a part of our daily routine now.
The most magical part about living in the country is the ability I have to be more of a ‘free range’ parent with Ransom. He is free to roam about the property, and I feel comfortable because almost every single one of our neighbors (which is like 3 people) is family.
I cherish every day that I get to spend with this wild boy, out on our land, tending to our gardens, and trying to live a more simple way of life. I am so proud that Ransom has a great understanding about where his food comes from, how to treat and care for animals, and what it means to live on land that has historical family ties.
I hope that when he looks back, he remembers these special childhood moments, too.
Thank you for joining me in this first post in what I hope to be a monthly series! I would love to hear from you, what are you growing in your garden, or what do you hope to grow in the future? Let me know in the comments below!