Our Little Urban Farm

Monday Apr 1 | BY |
| Comments (146)


Well, I wouldn’t say it’s quite an urban farm yet, but it definitely has some opportunity.

We spent the last week moving into our new rental home in North Berkeley. Luckily, we have some friends here and Annmarie’s family around to help, otherwise it would have been much more stressful than it was. I did miss a few work days during the week, but that’s all collateral damage. We’re now completely moved in and, surprisingly, almost all set up!

Today, like any good global neighbor would, we wanted to give you a little tour of at least the outside of the place, so you can see what — I imagine — I’ll be talking about from time to time, since there are a lot of garden, health, and farming projects on my list.

After looking at a few rental homes, we chose this place for a few reasons.

First, it is much bigger. We upgraded from about 600 square feet of living space to about 1300-1400. This is more than both our last apartment and the RV combined.

Second, it has a yard and existing garden. I can’t tell you how much I missed walking out onto the earth when we were in our apartment. Sure, we would walk to the park 4 block away, but there’s nothing like walking out into the grass with your shoes off — grass that you have all to yourself.

Third, it was easy. Our friends had lived there before and they were moving away. They knew the house was not a lemon and so there should be very few surprises along the way for us.

There were other reasons too — neighborhood, proximity to public transportation, close farmer’s market — but those were the top three.

I figured the best way to show you around would be to show you a few pictures and talk about the place as if we were walking around together.

So, let’s pop some virtual shoes on and get moving.

The Back Yard


If you walk down the stairs from the deck, you’ll see the entrance to the garden. This is fenced in because of the chickens (I’ll get to those soon enough!) I haven’t spent a lot of time around hens, but we have 4 of them and apparently they love to eat stuff out of the garden just like we do.

As you can see, the enclosed garden is made of bamboo and is actually quite sunny. This is perfect for growing all types of food.


To the right of the garden, is a fairly large “yard” area. It’s not really a yard to me, since it’s basically just dirt (or mud when it rains.) There’s a massive redwood to the right and another pretty tree to the left. In the middle here is a table where I imagine someone used to have starters for the garden.

You can see it’s also very shady here. While I like the shade, I think the trees in the yard need a little TLC. One of the things we’re going to do is give them all a trim so that there can be more sunlight here — but not too much — we want to make sure we still have some privacy from our neighbors.

I’m also thinking of putting bamboo, a few rows deep, behind that table and in front of the fence. This should block the view a bit to the apartment building next to us.


Here is looking back a little further into the yard next to the garden.

Once we bring some more light into the area, I think I’ll consider putting in some grass so Hudson can have a little play area here.


To the right of the redwood is the chicken coop. This is nicely built and has an automatic door that closes at night after they’ve made their way in for the evening. It’s pretty hands off and they’re laying eggs which is awesome. I don’t intend to do anything here except clean it when necessary. At first impression, chicken poop seems very sticky. I’ll let you know as more details develop (or maybe not.)


To the left of the other tree is the best part of the whole yard — a massive fig tree. If you don’t hear from me around July, it’s because I’m sitting under the tree eating as many of these as possible — with complete disregard to how I’ll feel afterwards. I love figs.


Behind the fig tree and to the left is a bunch of brambles and other craziness. I have a feeling we’ll leave a few things, plant some new, and remove some of the nastiness back there. We’ll probably plant a lemon tree back here somewhere as well — maybe Meyer lemon.

Into the Garden


Right above the entrance way to the garden are two plum trees. These haven’t been trimmed in a while, so I’m hoping to get someone in to cut them back a bit (once the season for them is over, since it’s too late now to trim them.) This might be the key to getting more light into the yard.


Inside there are three raised beds and a few planters. The garden has a style of it’s own, which we love. We’ll probably keep the free flowing style of it, but just pull back some of the overgrowth to maximize space.


Here is some chard, kale and rosemary.


Here’s the little deck in the back where we can sit (need to get some chairs!)


A bench and a lamp with a light bulb in it. (A little strange.)


Here’s the side to the left side of the enclosed area. Right now, it’s a bunch of nasturtium, which we’ll keep, but I want to integrate some cucumbers, squash, zucchini and peas somewhere in that area.

The Side and Front

What’s great about this place is the added space on the side and front of the house.


Here’s the side of the property, which gets sun on the right and not on the left. This area, I think, will be awesome for wild edibles. There is already ample amounts of wood sorrel and a nice patch of fennel here. I might gather up some other seeds, toss them around and see what survives.

In this picture, you can see to the right there are a bunch of steps headed up to the window. I initially thought these were for plants, but the more I looked at them, I realized that this was a staircase for a cat. Eventually, I’m hoping Jonny 5 will (again) be an outdoor cat and learn how to use these.


This is the front yard, which is grassy and shady. In the middle is a big old pine tree. Behind the pine tree in the neighbor’s year is a palm that blocks all the sun here. I have no idea what I’m going to do with this space, but right now, I’m inclined to leave it be.


Finally, here is the car port. I’m sharing this, because I think it’s kind of funny and I have no idea what to do with this space.

You can’t park a car in there because it’s too narrow. You might fit a Smart car in there, but someone would have to get out by hatchback, since there’s no room for the doors to open.

Right now, we have the garbage, compost and recycle bins there, but we’re open to ideas if you have any. It gets no sun and what you see in the way back is a makeshift bike rack.

Just a Thought

As I’m writing this, I thought maybe it would be fun to enlist you guys to help me transform this property into something exciting, interesting and educational.

So what I’m thinking is that we’d have some sort of contest. Maybe a best idea or best plan or something like that. I don’t want to get too crazy, but I do want to do some fun and useful things to show how you can make use of small space for both food and hanging out.

So, my question to you, is would you be interested in entering a contest where you could submit an idea or a few to make this space even more awesome than it is already?

If so, tell me yes or no, and if there are enough of you who are interested, I’ll follow up with some more detail!

Hope you enjoyed the tour!

Your question of the day: Would you want to enter a contest and submit your idea for this space?

Live Awesome!

Kevin Gianni

Kevin Gianni is a health author, activist and blogger. He started seriously researching personal and preventative natural health therapies in 2002 when he was struck with the reality that cancer ran deep in his family and if he didn’t change the way he was living — he might go down that same path. Since then, he’s written and edited 6 books on the subject of natural health, diet and fitness. During this time, he’s constantly been humbled by what experts claim they know and what actually is true. This has led him to experiment with many diets and protocols — including vegan, raw food, fasting, medical treatments and more — to find out what is myth and what really works in the real world.

Kevin has also traveled around the world searching for the best protocols, foods, medicines and clinics around and bringing them to the readers of his blog RenegadeHealth.com — which is one of the most widely read natural health blogs in the world with hundreds of thousands of visitors a month from over 150 countries around the world.


Comments are closed for this post.

  1. Diana says:

    How about a sprouting zone? Wheatgrass, barley, alfalfa, sunflower and more for juices and salads, maybe sell excess at the neighborhood farmer’s market.

  2. Chickens love to roost in trees (being originally jungle fowl) – how about giving them the possibility?

    • Kate says:

      This is true, they do like the trees, but they can also become easy prey when sleeping out in the open. Cats and fox etc would easily get to them and eventually they would be gone….They are safest in the coop with the nice automatic door (that is VERY cool, by the way). We have a small flock in the yard too and that would be great for the evenings when we go out.

    • Andrea says:

      Even within the city limits of Berkeley, raccoons also love to climb trees… and eat chickens (hence the automatic door on the chicken coop).

  3. Linda says:

    What a great place Kevin. Congratulations to you and your family. It will be so nice for your little guy to have all that space to explore. Love the chicken coop!

    I think a contest would be very cool. I’m sure you’ll get lots of great ideas!

  4. Lilija says:

    You should have some space for just chilling, meditation or hiding. Maybe a hammock somwhere? 🙂

  5. lynn says:

    Yes..good idea for everyone..you and submitters. Personally, I have down-sized from a 2 acre garden to a back yard and lot the smaller than yours, so I am looking into all kinds of intensive ways to grow food and herbs.

    On an unrelated topic, do you realize that while you were moving the auto-responder went haywire? I received over 200 hundred replies to one email. Please check into it..


  6. Sue says:

    Take the top off! Have you thought that as the earth rotates this summer you might get some sun, sure could be a cute sitting area.

  7. Tiria says:

    A contest sounds fun. I like the ideas you’re getting already. We had a small home and yard last year in the Carolina’s and it was AMAZING how much food we grew. Couldn’t have my chickens though – city ordinances. But my new house in TX I get horses, cows, chickens, goats, greenhouses and a DONKEY!! I’m so excited!!

  8. Christina says:

    Congrats on the new place. Lots of options there. I grew up on a big farm and really miss it. I sent you a like to an awesome aeroponic tower growing system. It takes up little space and grows lots of stuff quickly. I would love your opinion and maybe see one in one of those small spaces on the yard!

  9. Brenda says:

    Congratulations on your new place, and yes i would be interested in a contest, you will get lots of good ideas hopefully.

  10. Claire says:

    Yes I’d enter and think its a fun idea!

  11. Tracey says:

    Congratulations! How blessed you are to have some land to grow grow your own food & get away from the blacktop.
    We also farm. Were in Wi.(on 175 ares) & grow lots of our own food & raise animals.
    http://www.cozyacres.webs.com we have lots of pics

  12. anisa says:

    congrats it an amazing place thank you for sharing .may you and your family have a peaceful,happy,healthy time in your ne home and may you have plenty of produce to eat ,share and sell .please check out the backtoeden.com for easier gardening it is really good

  13. Paula Brake says:

    Henry says it looks like too much work for him…but it looks great for you guys! I know you will enjoy it and we love all of the ideas you have so far.

  14. Angie says:

    Love the place! Yes you should do a contest. You would get lots of ideas for your family. My son was reading through this with me and had a creative idea for the car port area. 🙂

  15. Angie says:

    By the way, we are from Kentucky and are so curious as to what the jars over the posts are for? 🙂

  16. Skip Stein says:

    You seem to have everything. Looks like a lovely water source but didn’t have a great picture. Replace the picture of the trash can with one of the lake or whatever !

    You might want to consider hydroponics units to augment your limited space and maximize your growing in sunny spaces. Vertical hydroponics are great for urban gardens, small spaces (even apartment patios) for growing vegetables, herbs and spices. Great educational tool and man, does stuff grow FAST!

    Check out our web site. We have several at Disney Epcot (Orlando) in the Land Hydroponics Exhibit.

    Love to have you!


    Skip Stein
    FOODY Hydroponics Systems

  17. Elaine says:

    You can use the space for composting.

  18. Susan says:

    What a wonderful new place! Thanks for sharing with us. Yes, you should have the contest, looks like you have several new ideas already.

  19. What a FUN space! Love the creative use of the bamboo. Sure, I would love to offer some ideas for your contest. Congratulations, a great place for you and your family to GROW!

  20. Pat Porter says:

    Sure I’d love to enter some suggestions for a contest.

  21. Victoria says:

    You could enclose the garage, put up shelving and it would make a rockin tool shed and a place to organize your seedlings.

  22. Thanks for sharing. Loved seeing your new home. I have a small flock of chickens here in mid-coast Maine, and I adore them They are very funny. Endlessly rewarding. Green Mountain feeds just came out with a soy free organic pellet for layers! Up to now I’ve been mixing my own feed. Also, chickens are omnivores, like us. So supplement them with leftover meat, milk, cooked veggies, etc. They prefer fresh greens (kale, chard, lettuce) to almost all other foods. Save the outer leaves from, say, a head of lettuce for them. And the stalks of trimmed kale. Etc. keep fresh water for them always. they must have fresh water or they will stop laying. Use FOOD GRADE quality diatamaceous diet in their bedding to kill mites, etc. I dusted mine with it when I first got them. Just a light sprinkle over new bedding does the trick. I think I put too much of their composted waste on my garden. I might have made it too nitrogen rich for a time. So, go slowly with enrichment. There’s lots of info on chickens on my blog–and pictures of my beautiful eggs–on my blog. Click on chickens on the right side bar. louisaenright.com
    Again, congratulations on the new house.

  23. what fun projects, and productive, you have ahead – it is a great space and you will grow your blessings here – the carport area may be good space for medicinal mushrooms and overflow area for starter plants from seed – have fun and thanks for showing us around

  24. ann says:

    I’m not really into the contest thing but I’m sure others will have fun with it. I’ve lived on a farm my whole life so just a few suggestions, be careful if you use your chicken manure for your garden it is very strong a little goes a long way and you want to leave space don’t put it right up against the plants or it will burn them. Please leave your kitty inside where she is safe. Cats really don’t need to be outdoors and they pickup lots of bad stuff/ fleas, worms and bacteria, to say nothing of the danger of her getting lost, poisoned or hit by a car. I realize this may seem strange from a person that always has lived on a farm, and people think of cats running around farm yards and barns, its pretty in a painting but not so healthy for the cats. Your totally correct your chickens will love your kitchen scraps and garden throw aways, your eggs will have more good stuff in them if your chickens can eat a more natural diet. I plant an organic garden using horse manure as my only soil enhancer, and on occasion some lime. I also forage and have a wonderful women in the town near where I live who has written a number of books on foraging, she has a website if your interested. I’m sure there will be lots of people who disagree with the cat thing. Enjoy your new place it will be a lot of fun and very healthy for you and your family. Love your site!!!!!

    • Leslie Riley says:

      Ann, I’d like to have her website. I am waiting for Sergei’s wild foraging book to come out this summer. Nervous about what’s edible here (Rocky Mountains). Thanks!

    • Kathryn says:

      another problem with an outside cat and a garden is they love the open dirt (garden areas and kids play areas) as a litter box. If Johnny 5 has been raised as an inside cat it may be best to keep it that way. Give him some nice window seats.
      another idea on chicken manure that I’ve heard is that if you compost it for a years you eliminate the burn problem.
      Wonderful place, enjoy!

  25. Devi says:

    Thanks for sharing with us. I like Lilija’s idea of a meditation area. What an awesome place- blessings all around. Herbs are always a plus for eating and medicinal purposes.

  26. kaye diffee says:

    I think that space would make a nice little hot house to start your plants in .

  27. joanna says:

    Yes, I’d like to be involved. Already have an idea for your ‘carport’. Dark and damp….grow mushrooms!!!

  28. Darlene says:

    Hello Kevin 🙂
    Yes I think a contest would be super! So thrilled for you and your family to have this great space to ‘grow’ in ???? I will be looking forward to reading everyone’s ideas. We have a yard space here in southern Ontario that I am anxious to start digging and planting. Won’t have any lemon tress :(… But a few months to have all the other goodies. Good luck! Can’t wait to watch your progress. Thanks for sharing yourself with others!

  29. Peg says:

    Perfectly lovely… May your castle be a shining light for your entire little family …. Happy times and all blessings now and ahead !!!! Congratulations !????

  30. barbaraL says:

    Its already wonderful. Love all those fences! How fortunate to find such a great place to live. I would love to see pix of your baby. Did you ever post any? If you did I missed it. Can we see him?

  31. Mary kerske says:

    Yes, I think we can offer some suggestions. I love your website, ordered your products, loved your 5-day cancer webinar and am hooked on your Tulsi tea. We might have an unfair advantage though, as my husband and sons own a garden center/landscaping business and one of our services is a personal farmer program, but we do a lot of urban gardens and sell a lot of cedar raised bed at the store. It looks like you have a lot going on in a little area. So yea, I think we can offer a few suggestions.

  32. sasha says:

    Very cool “wild” look! Love it! Happy new house!

  33. Jacky says:

    I like your little place and know you will love the freedom of a house, expecially for Hudson. No, I don’t want to enter a contest, I have NO imagination. If you show me something, I can say I do or don’t like it, but how to fix it–nah! Your carport is a leanto, I think, just a place to put some things out of wind and rain. Seems like you are already making good use of it. So happy for you to be in a house. God bless you, enjoy!

  34. Jacky says:

    Addenda, chicken manure—very hot, must let it compost till it breaks down or it will burn your plants. But it is good fertilizer. Horse and cow manure can be used fresh, but your neighbors will appreciate it if you compost it first too. 🙂

  35. Melissa says:

    Congraulations, KEvin; wow!! meyer lemons? these cost a bit here in Cda – so yes, yes yes!!

    the carport: yeah – definitely have a little giveaway for the ‘best idea’; its great that you’ve inherited some positive zen in the space from good people … well, you know “each child brings its own Light” … had a similar experience when my daughter was born – we ‘inherited’ an amazing parkside apt. in toronto from friends, fireplace, small garden plot out the back and a garage with storage space for wood/composter, etc. was a dream at the time – my daughter was about 5; the garden was already planted – mostly flowers, but the landlady had some chives, garlic, tomato plants (difficult to get going here but i had a few fantastic green tomato binges); … basil and mint, string beans … would only have dreamed for an apple and pear tree here; delicious!! Good luck and may God Bless your new home!!

  36. Cynthia says:

    Yes– wanna be part of the contest! I went to my friendly Pinterest and found this cool idea for the underused space in your carport– I believe this speaks to your passion for eating fresh right out of the garden… http://twoellie.com/storage/3-5-08-garage.jpg?__SQUARESPACE_CACHEVERSION=1303050389382 (from the blog http://www.twoellie.com )

  37. In that small space you can easily set up for vertical lettuce farming.

  38. Lu Ann says:

    Yes! A contest would be fun and a great way for you to get many ideas for how to turn your yarden into your own little sanctuary.

    How blessed you are to have so much fence! I can picture ‘hanging gardens’ on them – food plants as well as flowers (to feed both body and soul) 😉 Check out this video from The Live Well Network/Deals at timeline 2:20


    Thank you for the lovely tour. Congratulations and enjoy your new “digs”!

  39. Carol Brown says:

    I’m not the idea person but I love your house and yard. So happy for you guys!

  40. Dorothy says:

    Hi There Kevin, Annemarie & Little Hudson, so glad you’ve finally got the ‘Big Shift’ just about finished. It’s gonna be great getting those bigger jobs out of the way first; then you can relax getting the smaller necessities done. It’s good that you have chosen where you’re going to put a few of your crops already; and what other plants you will keep, while others get the chop, or ‘Trim’ whichever-the-case-may-be. Chooks are good too & so is your suggestion of the Meyer lemon tree. We planted our Meyer lemon about 41 years ago, and it’s still going strong. It’s such a magnet for the bees when it’s in flower, & the perfume of the lemon flower must be one of my favourites, I can smell the flowers right down the other end of the garden. At the moment my lemons are still green, still lots of blossoms too. A beautiful lemon, thin skin & so juicey.
    I’m in Australia about 18 miles from Melbourne, one of the outer suburbs of greater Melbourne. Oh! and by-the-way that’s an excellent idea you have of having a little contest about the awkward little pozie next to the stairs. Good luck with the new house & garden etc; etc; and thank you for showing us around your place.
    Cheers to you and yours~Dorothy

  41. Iris Ztarr says:

    Yes! Looks like you will have fun here too. . . .

  42. Leslie Riley says:

    Congratulations on your beautiful new place! How exciting. Personally, I’m not much on contests, but happy to share ideas if I have any. Re the carport – we used to have a place in Hawaii and because the weather was so nice, lots of people used the outdoors or the garage for their laundry to get it out of the house. Maybe that’s something to consider so you have extra room in the house? Is the area safe for Jonny5 to be outside? Inside cats live longer, but it’s nice for them to have some freedom and outdoor time. I’m living in Colorado at 8500 feet and we have deer, so the idea of a garden is appealing, but daunting. I’d also love chickens but haven’t researched how to do that. Would love info going forward as to what you are doing! In the comments below, someone mentioned a hammock. Those are great. You can check online for inexpensive ones (about $20 travelhammock.com) that you can tie between two trees, take down when you want to move it. They’re lightweight, we take ours when we travel. Best wishes.

  43. Liz H. says:

    The one thing I really want to do in my garden involves chickens. I would put the chicken coop centered at one end of the garden in such a way that only 1/2 of the garden would be planted while the chickens could forage in the other half. Then next growing season I would plant the side where the chickens were before & let the chickens forage in the side that was previously planted. The chickens will stir up the ground, eat the leftovers from the garden, weeds, and insects all while stirring up the ground & fertilizing it. This lets them be more free-range than your current setup. We’re redesigning our garden this year & looking for a way to make it happen without offending the neighbors.

  44. Gini says:

    Congratulations on your perfect new home- like a little garden of Eden for your family! Love the garden beds– I see some yummy Italian kale in the bed above the nasturtiums so leave that. I vote for Jonny 5 to get to go outside too. I’ve always had inside/outside cats with no health problems and they don’t go in the street.

  45. Gini says:

    Oh, and the chickens will eat insects in the garden.

  46. Gini says:

    Don’t know where my first post went!??

  47. enzymeluv says:

    Are you moving into the chicken coop? I like that handicapped access ramp too. Best to ya’ll… time to get busy. Enjoy

  48. Contest – sure why not – you have a lot of nice space. Even that carport area is nice for a covered work area, seedlings, worm bins, composting. Nice score Kevin!

  49. Brandi says:

    Maybe the carport could be converted into a juice bar for when friends are over?

  50. SouthernMom says:

    I don’t want to enter a contest, but I did want to say that you might use that little car port space as a place for Hudson to play once he can do ride-on toys and such. It’s a great place to be able to be outside even if it’s raining, and a great place to do messy activities like painting. As a mom of six, I can think of a lot of activities that kids love to do that just make a mess and that you might like to have on concrete rather than over yard space that could get muddy or that would get the kids covered if you’ve just mowed. So I might think about getting some easily-shifted indoor/outdoor kid toys (Little Tikes-type stuff) and keep convenient storage there like you already have. The place looks amazing – can’t wait to see what y’all do with it! Your ideas sound great. I love the chickens and the bamboo fence!! 🙂

  51. Be very careful with your choice of bamboo for planting. Some are quite well behaved and others will take over your yard (and the neighbor’s) in a heartbeat! 😉

  52. That was simply FUN Kevin!! Love your land… it’s looks magical.. Oh and I would do something in the front if nothing but a bit of paint and some wind chimes!! xo

  53. Elissa says:

    You will be so busy storing outside toys in the carport for your child…you will be thrilled to have it. Where else can you put trikes, cars, pools, balls, etc? Enjoy your new home. Love reading the blog.

  54. gloria says:

    Yes – looks like a good place to veg on a hot, sunny day!

  55. Velda says:

    Well, I’m not good at contests, so, just for me, that would be a no – but there are those creative people out there that would love it, and you could get a lot of ideas from it. I would love to send you a little 7 minute video I made of my “farmette” in my back yard. The main part is about 2200 square feet, and we have, what I lovingly call, “subsections” that are away from the main part and on the side yards. There we have a couple of fruit trees and also a few containers with different things like potatoes, squash, carrots, and/or peppers. I actually started this a couple of years ago by making it into a community garden where we all work on it and all take what we want (there are 4 of us in on it – 2 neighbors, a friend and me). Since I am a single woman, 65 years of age, it would have been difficult for me to prepare the ground and construct the watering system and get it all done by myself. It has been wonderful and productive. We are getting crops in the ground now and we plant year-round. Love it. I will be looking forward to seeing/hearing how your farm is going. Also, I would love to have some chickens, but so far only have crop. Congratulations, Kevin and Annmarie, on your move. I am sure you will love it.

  56. betsy says:

    would not want to enter a “contest” but would be glad to make suggestions for edible, useful, fun, outdoor living spaces…..20 yrs organic landscaper, horticulturist in Santa Cruz County.
    #1 take the rosemary out of the raised bed – would do great out of the box and the space it takes up would be beneficial for “crops” that need much more tlc
    #2 summer pruning on the plums – structural pruning is best in summer, minimal regrowth from the cuts – am currently working with one who has now had 5 more gentle prunings in 2 years and hasn’t lost a beat in fruit production – but now the fruit is easier to reach and the tree is soooo much happier
    #3 keep it fun and personalize it w garden art- lamps w light bulbs! (careful you’re light bulbs aren’t toxic if they break) I had a dinosaour garden at one place – focused on very old (genetically anyway) species and tropical but hardy look w
    #4 go somewhat slowly on those overgrown area as not to disturb too much of the existing ecosystems – there’s life in every nook and cranny
    #5 love the mushroom idea for the carport – add worm bins ! love the sprout beds idea too
    #6 espalier’d fruit trees along the side, underplanted with seasonal edibles & beneficial insect attractors & nitrogen fixers
    info is free, pay it forward….
    love the place, you’ll have great fun with it whatever you do…..thanks for sharing

  57. Walter Smith says:

    A contest would be a great idea and you should have fun with it all. Got a great idea for you. I’ll wait for the contest.

  58. Chris says:

    No, no contest for me, but will check in to see what others say.

  59. Rashid Ironman says:

    Add some magnificent ORMUS to grow your vegetation. It shall give your garden space richness in terms of beauty as well as growth of plantation…!

  60. Deb says:

    Don’t think you’ll need a contest to get suggestions for what to do with your yard. My suggestion is to think about what you want to do with your yard. You already mentioned you want a place for the little one to play, possibly keep the garden and have some privacy. Think about what else you’d like to do with the place (a few examples could be: place outside to entertain friends when they come over or a butterfly garden) and use that list to make decisions on what to do with the yard. Let us know your ideas and we will have lots of suggestions on how to implement it.

  61. Faith says:

    Storey’s Guide to Raising Chickens is the BIBLE of chicken raising…Good to have on hand just in case something comes up..which it always does when raising animals. Contests are fun! And the ideas will be well worth it for your work on the contest side of it. Good Luck From Western PA!! GO PENS 🙂

  62. Judy Shaw says:

    I love seeing what you are doing. I am doing my own organic garden & will see if any of the ideas for your garden will work in mine. I love canning my home grown garden.

    Thank you for sharing, cheers & be well.

  63. Patty says:

    Massive backyard potential!!! But please please get rid of that lamp/lightbulb combo!! It reminds me of a sci-fi creature I saw in a low budget film years ago!
    Best of luck to you with the new digs. I personally would use the “carport” as a garden shed – tools, planting/pruning table – the works. Best part of that, the trash and other cans can stay there too.
    Thanks for all you share – I totally enjoy it and I also share it on down the line.
    Happy Spring!!

  64. DebbieM says:

    You’ll be busy, but with a positive attitude and believing that bringing order, beauty and productivity to such a space is a blessing, you’ll do fine and have loads of fun together!

  65. Fumi says:

    Home sweet Home! Hey how about planting a PEACE POLE? May Peace Prevail On Earth!!!

  66. cindi says:

    congrats to u and your family… it all looks great and will be fun altho a lot of work too… so glad u found that place… it is so “u” ….i think the contest is a great idea because i have no clue what to do with that area and look forward to seeing what everyone else has to say……. another learning experience for me …. ty for all that u and Ann do…… enjoy enjoy enjoy!!

  67. Mary says:

    That space will the light bulb and the four posts around it looks like a potential makeshift temporary greenhouse where you can place plastic sheeting over the posts, turn on the lamp, and protect early seedlings from frost or in the fall/winter, protect some outdoor potted plants from the cold.

  68. Bonnie Davis says:

    Congratulations on your new living space! What a wonderful area with so much potential. I personally would NOT recommend a contest. Each land site has its own unique character. Check out Machaelle Wright’s “The Perelandra Garden Workbook” and see how you can be in harmony with nature.

  69. vickie allen says:

    I do hope you keep your cat indoors. The number of birds that are killed by cats is truly staggering! If you are convenience your cat has to be outside please wait until after baby bird season (may July or August). Cat’s are also more prone to fights, meeting up with a cat that has Leukemia (highly contagious) or poisons when allowed to roam. Perhaps a nice screened in area would give the cat a sense of adventure but safe for birds. Please reconsider this situation.

  70. Lila says:

    Thanks for sharing your new life space :>)

    I wonder if you know that bamboo is an invasive…it can “take over” a LOT of space, and is difficult to remove.

  71. Phyllis says:

    YES! I would be very interested in submitting an idea for your lovely space! Congratulations!

  72. Keep the Chicken coop – maybe a little paint. So cute. I like the new home. I would do a good cleanup around the yard and tidy up the fencing and layout a nice garden plan to include fruits & vegetables, flowers, and bushes with a bench or two to sit and enjoy the garden and it’s sounds. Yes, gardens have sounds (you know, birds chirping, bugs buzzing, etc.). I wouldn’t make your garden too planed but more natural looking. Also, read about planting things together that act as bug repellants to other plants. My father was an organic gardener and learned that certain herbs planted near other plants deter bugs that attack them. There was an herb (I don’t remember name) that when planted next to a rose bush would deter Japanese beetles which could destroy the rose bush. I could never be an urban gardener because I have no place to grow living in an apartment house with cement yard. I am now too disabled to work in a community garden so I have my houseplants to care for and that’s it. I do grow grass for my cat.
    Hope you enjoy the project of developing you new home and hope you enjoy those chickens. My neighbors in SF have chickens and I hear them cooing in the morning.

  73. anna says:

    I would enclose the car port area, and make it a “no car” garage, for storing garbage/recycling, bikes, yard equipment, garden tools, etc.

  74. Mary Kay says:

    No, not interested in a contest, but do raise chickens and have some thoughts. I have about 70 laying hens and up to 50 meatbirds at a time and am experienced in these matters.

    I feel sorry for your chickens because they do not have access to pasture. They’re kind of in jail. Now I agree, you can’t let them run everywhere, but you must be able to give them access to grass. This is their natural diet. Just cutting grass for them is not quite enough….You can also feed them an entire kale plant, or kale leaves or other greens, but you must either cut them up into tiny pieces, or attach the greens to something so they can take bites. I sometimes give them kale leaves in their entirety with a brick on one end so they can pull on it and take bites.

    There’s also the mental stimulation of running around and foraging. And I don’t think it’s natural to not have a man around the house either. Sometimes a hen will go “butch” without a roo around. However, a crowing rooster may not be allowed where you live. If you do get a rooster, How fun it will be for your children to allow them to have babies.

    so happy that you’ve made an improvement in your lifestyle.

  75. Eli Ridgway says:

    Sounds like fun. I’ve been working on a “rock” garden for over a year now and found that when I left it alone and gave my intuition time to kick in (or someone else’s), it started filling in with new dimensions. Also, did some reading (as time permits) and this space (goal: cover the ground!) is filling in quite nicely. Good luck, I may not have time to participate but you’ll have fun. Congratulations on your new acquisition!

  76. Linda says:

    I would make the carport a comfortable seating area for your family to sit outside and enjoy the “farm”. I’d put a living wall on the wood slats, maybe some herbs.

  77. Dejana says:

    Hi Kevin and Annmarie! Congratulations for your new place, it looks beautiful! I’m so happy you two and little Hudson will be more in contact with nature:)! Thank you so much for sharing and posting all the pictures. Not many ideas yet- hmm, probably because I would need to see a floorplan, so how about posting it? It’s difficult from pictures and vegetation to have a clear picture of the size of each area and how they are connected to make a smart, comprehensible easy to use space. Lots of love from London!

  78. marcus says:

    yes to the contest!

  79. Colleen says:

    That’s a beautiful place! I’m so happy for you, enjoy!!

  80. Patsy Ann says:

    Great space! Lots of potential. Contest would be great. Two suggestions, please do not get a rooster. I had 23 acres long ago and about 25 chickens and a rooster. One morning my 2 years old was outside with my mother and the rooster (his wings were clipped) flew up about two feet and attacked my two year old and it resulted in several stitches at the emergency room. Also, chickens will eat and destroy every blade of grass there is in a yard. So if you want grass anywhere pin the chickens up. Also, I suggest you plant dwarf lemon and lime trees in containers and that way if you ever move you can take them with you. They produce well and don’t take up a lot of room. And most of all, enjoy!

  81. Sarah says:

    Awesome!!! Congratulations!! I personally don’t care about a contest, but assuming you can make some construction changes to it (can you??) If it were my space I would make it into an office. Put up walls and electrics in there so that would be where the computer etc. could be (and therefore you don’t have to have all the wifi stuff in the house) and you could receive a visitor or two without having to go into your living space and you can separate out the personal living space from the work space. The currently fromnt open space would be a wall with a door and a big window. You might also put a window where that red fencing in the back is.

  82. Ta says:

    Be careful planting bamboo. Bamboo is basically tall crab grass, unless you plant a barrier (2-3 feet below ground) you’ll find your garden space overtaken by it. Trust me, it is extremely difficult to get rid of it or contain it after it’s taken off.

  83. Susan says:

    Congratulations on your new place. Looks like it has a very lovely garden to grow your very own veggies and collect some fresh eggs from the chicken coop. You have it make!!! I can picture Hudson playing in the grassy area with Johnny 5 and I also have some ideas for the garden and the carport area and I think the contest would be great.

  84. Karen says:

    Looks like you all have a happy and healthy home for what nature can provide now and in the future.

  85. Nikki G says:

    I think a contest would be fun! I have an idea for the “carport”. I will enter it in the contest? May God bless your new home!

  86. Because you and Anne are so busy, you might want to look into permaculture for backyard options. Check out the permies.com website and forum – they have fabulous info on all areas of living, growing, and chickens; the owner of the site, Paul Wheaton, is a big name in the environmental movement, and the membership is pretty smart on the whole.

    I would suggest getting a copy of “Gaia’s Garden” by Toby Hemenway before you plant/remove anything. Smaller yards actually need better planning, and permaculture practices are designed to work with natural cycles and use less work to maintain them (which I imagine is important with 2 busy adults and a rapidly growing child, yes?).

  87. Elisa says:

    Sun room
    toy room
    mini spa.
    composting/mulching space
    No matter what, it will be on display if it faces the street! My 2 cents of what I would do with the carport space.

  88. Scott says:

    A nice start to a permeculture Yard or a Food Forest
    Con Grads

  89. Maria says:

    What a great space! It will be work and the work will be worth it! Thanks for the virtual tour.
    I think you’d do well to enlist some help from your urban friends and neighbors who may not have
    the opportunity to garden but who might really enjoy and benefit by helping. I downsized from a large yard with a large garden to a condo. I, now, help friends in their yards and also garden for my former neighbors.
    (It’s great helping to garden rather than paying to go to the gym.) So, put the word out if you would enjoy some company in your garden and a little extra help from people who might appreciate the opportunity.

  90. Awesome! Love all the nooks and crannies.

  91. Ed says:

    Congratulations, awesome+ a great day for you and yours. But . . . I’m worried about the front yard pine. It might be nothing, still here in Florida the lightening capital of the world my parks department sees vertical black stripping as a sign of lightening strikes. It could be superficial heat dissapation but maybe needs an arborist to check it out. I hope it is not a problem so just have it looked at and let the celebration continue. Looking forward to how you settle in.

  92. Dara says:

    Thanks for the pic tour, Kev – love the new place! Since this is a rental, I’d just trick out the carport area temporarily, rather than enclosing it as a toolshed or something, as other mentioned. Get the trash out of there (put in side yard?) Add outdoor string lites under roof for atmosphere; for privacy and a sense of enclosure, set up some planters across port front with vining plants and lightweight trellises for support, or alternatively, bamboo roller shades or hanging plexi or glass (stained glass?) window ‘screens’, similar to: http://www.lowes.com/creative-ideas/porch-deck-and-patio/deck-privacy-screens/project. Toss down an outdoor rug and throw in a little seating – lovely and rain protected.

  93. Baarbara says:

    This home is more of a match for your personality. Enjoy. My ideas if room, create an outdoor sanctuary put a double ring path for a mediative walk around your garden. with in your garden place a lovely sundial, small globes and some crystals and sspecial herb plants and clowers maybe some bird houses. There is lots of potential here. Loved the idea for the juice bar in the carport. If you have canoes, kayaks and alot of gear would be a good space to keep all of this equipment. How’s the inside? Love that you have the chickens and chicken coop. Wishing you All the best!

  94. jackie says:

    Congratulations! I think you’re gonna love it. Contest is a nice idea, but sorry I don’t have time to participate. Best wishes, and enjoy your new place.

  95. Karen says:

    Kev, make sure you plant the right kind of bamboo or it will take over the whole neighborhood. It grows fast, but it can spread like wild fire. Love your new place – so green.

  96. THANKS for including us in your new location…………Contest is a great idea……..you will get some great ideas I am sure.

  97. LynnCS says:

    I wouldn’t know where to begin, except to back the truck up and do a major demo! Lovely idea to plant a lemon tree, if there is room. This area can be really great. Lot’s of nooks and crannies to work with. I’d get rid of any and all structures like the garden ‘fence’ and at least doll up the ‘carport’ lean to. Maybe replace some of the roof with something the sun light can penetrate, paint it some pretty colors, and use the area for a quasi green house area to start seedlings. A few old fun chairs out there, a place for sitting, talking, tea, and hanging plants.

    Getting rid of all the old dead plants and trees, or trimming back, will let the light in, as you said. Doing the cleanup piece meal will drive you crazy. Starting with a clean slate will lift your spirits. Always having a mess to deal with can be depressing. I’ve had chickens. Fence THEM in, don’t fence in a small plot to keep them out. Chickens need a place to roost and lay eggs and a yard of their own. They will scratch up your plants. They’re really fun to have. Look at the big picture, the whole layout, draw a plot plan, decide where the garden is going to go. Then a bit of sod for the baby to play. The easiest garden is an in ground garden. Easier to weed. Watch the yard every day to see where the sun goes and make a clearing to let the sun get to your garden plot. It looks like the yard hasn’t been tilled or anything healthy growing there for a while so if it’s packed down, it’s best to rent a tiller and till the whole thing. Lay out the garden and paths, add amendments, voila…plant, grow and eat. The easiest planting system is in rows (depending on what you are planting.) Within the rows, lay a soaker/irrigation hose and a timer if you want. It will take care of itself as the year goes on. Use only heirloom seeds and seedlings. Follow the instructions on the pkg. There are lots of healthy sprays and treatments such as lady bugs, etc. Much good luck with your project. Take us along for the adventure. Thanks for showing us what you are doing. Lynn

  98. I have a decent idea(s) if you, Kevin are thinking of “sprucing up” and really revealing the space that they sobriquet “The Carport”(lol) to make it more warm and inviting like the rest of you’re quaint little urban farm presents to be. I believe you could utilize a few vine-y vegetables (that do not require much sunlight and are trainable so such as peas/beans, most tomatoes, cucumbers, pole beans, tromboncini and other squashes and melons) to gain every inch you own on your new home.

    Take the right side of the carport for instance… keep your waste/recycles in place or relocate them to where you’re imagination strings you along to, by making shelves or well high ledges for storage and building a floating garden bed at the top ledge/shelving where you’re vines can run free(until you cut their throat and devour them, basking their proud beauty you helped perspire, no? and by throat i mean stems of course lol. But anywho, picture incorporating those currently rudely looking cans into your ledging-floating-vine-bed so that you make the most of seemingly limited space.
    Seeing that if you went with that idea you would need some sort of training apparatus for them which may incorporate some sort of lyre, Geneva double-curtain, vertical trellis cultivation techniques(Donntttt sweat it). So while it may seem astronomically tall on top of the cans and even to the sides of them, there would be no need to make you’re trellis, columns, etc. you place superior to you’re fence whatever you guys may desire to delve into to train your plants, taller then where your gutters are. In fact, it would probably be preferable if you kept it under the roof-line a foot or two. You may also at that point coax the landowner into allowing you to swap out that ole existing roof of the carport while leaving the accumbent parallel beams and go for a more natural roofing(veggievineys). However with such a changing project, the key is not convincing yourself of an ambitious project-(which would be a lovely few blog episodes and newsletters from you for you’re fans lol)- but rather you’re landlord. Whom I am sure may be more willing to allow you to on such an adventure if you propose more concrete plans to him and sway him in all the ways you are swaying yourself at this moment thinking of it.

    Just a few ideas to feed your cerebral cortex with

  99. Wow. So beautiful. It reminds me of my eight acres in Alabama where I used to live!! You have some awesome ideas. A little tool area for your gardening would be great with some installation of some peg boarding. (Carport)Just an idea for starts. God Bless.

  100. I think a contest is a great idea. It gives everyone a chance to be creative and give you lots of ideas to work with

  101. Annika says:

    What do you mean, you don’t know what to do with the car spot? It’s a HOT TUB spot, of course!

  102. KEVIN GREAT JOB. send me your ADDRESS to my e mail so I can send you some zeolite for the chicken area. It will remove odors and when you remove it with the chicken products you can amend the soil with the combinations. see this link and send me your address for this. I would remove all the trappings of this car port and when its clear and not blocking your home you will work it out . I see a place you can put a window for more air and light in the house once all this is removed.http://www.nontoxic.com/zeoliteodor/zeoliteodorcontrol.html

    Zeolite can be used for the odor control of manure and urea from dairy cows, feeder cows, horses, hogs, poultry, pig farms and most other animals. Odor from animal manure/urea is comes from ammonium that is not offensive to ammonia gas and airborne nitrates and sulfates. Zeolite absorbs moisture and so the ammonium is held open pore spaces by adsorption. Zeolite holds 60% of its weight in water. Zeolite also holds the ammonium in the mineral lattice( cation exchange capacity or ‘CEC’). In absorption, the ammonium is held loosely and is water soluble, but in the cation exchange position, the ammonium is not water-soluble but can be utilized by plants when used as plant and soil amendment.

    The amount Zeolite required to eliminate odor is dependent on the moisture and nitrogen content of the manure or urine amount. Reducing the dampness of the barn or stall with Zeolite reduces flies and maggot larvae . Hog and poultry manure are higher in nitrogen content than that of milk cows.
    For odor, flies and new generation fly control add zeolite to the feed . This will help with controlling parasites as well as odor.
    Zeolites will help with odor control. Pour enough Zeolite to absorb moisture.

  103. Gudrun B says:

    where in the world did you move to???? looks like a little paradise in the back – minus the “lawn” LOL
    we have the neighbors close as well,however are not allowed to have a few chickens, it bugs me to no end!
    hope you can enjoy your new place to the fullest!

  104. Im back again after looking around. If you can afford it I would remove as much wire as possible and use either untreated bamboo or untreated red wood that does not mold and make the place look more artistic without the wire and the sub divisions .I would not worry about privacy if you have tall bamboo around the house .However there seems to be too many areas closed off from one another. Do you need this or can it all be opened up? Blessings in your new home .Perhaps in time you can cordinate and more elegant front and back and sides with your neighbor .Offer to remove the car port or what bothers him (not the chickens ) and perhaps he can replant the large palm with a healthier newer one as his looks sick right now or you perhaps can remove the pine and put in a n attractive border or or something that fits both of your homes . Depends on who your neighbor is . Not everyone knows how to share and cooperate. If nothing else works talk home values .

  105. Bill Chambers says:

    Be happy to offer ideas with or without a contest. Would be beneficial to have a shot or two from the rooftop, just to add perspective, or at least from the front road, for the same purpose. There appears to be a lot of potential, but the amount of shade may be a problem. Plants tend to like sunshine, LOL! What are your priorities? Wildflowers, herbs…medicinal or otherwise, veggies, compost areas, garden work space, flowers? Let us know more and we’ll be glad to share ideas. Happy for you. Have fun and enjoy!

  106. robin says:

    YES! Interested! We would need a site plan and which direction and south–and your purposeful needs/wants/agenda… (we can reframe for you too…) and dimensions too–and what specific soil/vegetation there is…beyond the big tree and bamboo. we are psyched! an architect/designer and energetic arts healer/marketer. YES!

  107. YES! We would love to participate! Do you have a site plan that tells which way is South? Do you have thoughts about what you want this to feel like and be? And, what is the vegetation and soil like beyond what you descried. We are an architect/designer and energy arts healer and marketer. Frame it in your mind and we will too!

  108. LuAnn says:

    YES! I would.

  109. D Stiles says:

    Your Garden is beautiful and it looks very Peaceful.. I have a Urban Farm/Garden and in the process of
    planting a almond and hardy walnut tree :-). Have you considered planting a Goji Berry tree?, they start producing
    their berries while they are still small plants…they are Heavy producers! 🙂

  110. Greg Rever says:

    I have a liveaboard diesel pusher 37ft Allegro Bus. If these thrests from north korea come to reality how best do I travel to protect my family. Sounds like buy a geiger counter and know where the plume is. Northern Ca coast is a likely destination?

  111. barbara says:

    If you need a tree guy, I recommend Marco Bellelli. He is a neighbor and recommended by many, even Mimi’s Landscaping, Stephanie Bianco, other neighbors on Locksley Ave. 510-852-2906 cell, home 510-652-3438. He is busy book an appointment now. Your land lord will be pleased with Marco’s work. Barbara Enjoy your new place/space.

  112. manorama says:

    VERMICULTURE in the carport (WORMS!)… several trays of worms… it is simpler, cleaner and faster than compost if you do it right. I don’t know how I could post some pictures of my system -made with storage containers from walgreens. You put some large square container with soil at the bottom, then stack rows of smaller (walgreens) containers on top with some soil AND the organic matter to compost. The worms live in the bottom tier and come up to the top ones to eat…. and reproduce fast!

  113. Sal says:

    Looks like a lot of work!

  114. Esther says:

    That is an awesome space…love the chickens…don’t do changes too fast…you need to live in it awhile to get the feel of what is right for you…

  115. Yvonne says:

    The lamp is for evening and night to make it cozy out there when you sit outside, enjoying the nights. I think it is a great idea to have a lamp there! You can probably turn the bulb to turn the light on and off.

    But what a project place, oh my! You will be busy, that’s for sure. But at the same time growing your own food is fun. Good luck! And the cat should be happy out there, too!

  116. Angie says:

    I love projects like this and it would be fun to watch it come together. Do some research with regard to the bamboo. Once it gets going, it takes over and you will be constantly needing to cut it back. Lots of work. It will need to be retained if you don’t want that to happen.

  117. perfect place for a giant worm farm/bed. I use stock tanks (100 gallon rubbermaid) for worm beds in my barn during the winter months, scoop them out and re-fill in late spring when they are moved outside when it finally warms up here (Montana)

    Old bath tubs also make great worm beds which you can find for free or low cost at various recycling outlets.

    Also, I put my tanks on wooden platforms with heavy duty casters so they can easily be moved around. Other things to do: you can place wheat grass trays ontop of the worm beds, propped up by boards or stiff wire.
    You can also use the containers as compost bins, they heat much faster in a protected area. After the heap cools down, worms can be added to finish the compost business and make lots of great castings.

  118. Close it in and make a tool room out of it.

  119. Carolyn says:


    If you lived in Australia you would not have the cook pen near the house as they bring is vermin like nice and rats here, I would be shift it further down the back yard.

    You need to plant some more fruit tress and defiantly need a bigger veggie garden, nothing like eating freshly picked fruit and vegetables, even my dog likes fresh beans and peas.

    I have a small block here in Queensland and have 4 raised veg garden with 7 fruit tree and planning to plant more on the fence line as I remove old native trees,making my yard more self sufficient as organic food is expensive here in Australia. Have the basic citrus and have 2 dragon fruit to plant but looking for thing I can not buy in the shops.

  120. Malvin says:

    It looks totally awesome! You are so lucky to live in such amazing place! I’m in the process of renting a land for a garden so I’m more then interested in any gardening tips. And that car port looks like an excellent bike port, especially if you have a cargo bike (which is great for families).
    Wishing you all lots of incredible moments in your new place!

  121. Plant Plant Plant a garden for the family, there are some raised beds already, so you have
    it made, grow your own, and nothing like going to the back yard for fruits and veggies!
    Congratulations – you have a lot of space to grow much!

  122. LynnCS says:

    Just a little heads up to save your sanity later. If you plan to keep chickens, place some mouse traps strategically around the coupe area or you’ll be raising more than chickens.

    Take it from someone who has does a bit of renovation. Get a dumpster and do a major clean up. All those old splintery wood and metal structures will just become a hazard as time goes on and your little boy will get hurt on them. Remove sick trees and get up in the rest and do a good, professional trim. Then you can see what you have and do a layout. You can be ready to lay out a play area and garden in a week. I know it’s fun to imagine using old garden areas, but if the timbers are good, save them on the side and when you’re ready, it will come together in another week. Watch where the sun is every day at different times. In 2 weeks, you can have a sod area with some play eqpt. and some Adirondack chairs, a hammock, etc, and be planting the garden. I always prefer an in ground garden. Easier to weed and to irrigate. Just run a continuous soaker hose up and down the rows and leave paths with straw or whatever to walk on. Your little one is going to be in the middle of everything, so it has to be easy to reach and the inground is free. No wood to buy. The first year you may have to buy some compost, but after that you’ll have your own. Piece-mealing it will drive you nuts and you’ll end up not getting what you want. IMHO! You’re gonna love it!

  123. Erin Goon says:

    What if you took the carport and made it an over sized zen garden/meditation area. It’s so soothing to rake a small zen garden and I’ve always wanted to have a big one, but didn’t have the space for it. You could add a water feature and seating area. Also, it might be fun for kids because they can draw designs and leave little messages in the sand. Hope you like it.



  124. Kathy says:

    Just a possible little caveat. It doesn’t pay to plant edibles near the house as that is where builder trash went and is the most likely spot to have been sprayed over the course of time and tenancy. Mint is good around a house as it keeps bugs away (they don’t like the smell). I would use the seed but I would not eat of the fennel growing there.

    It would likely be a good place to hve a tray sprout garden (using soil in the trays but not the soil of that section by the house).

    Congrats on your new place. Hope for you that you make a lot of nice memories there.

  125. Zyxomma says:

    You’ve got so many great ideas already! May the Gianni family be happy and healthy there for as long as you stay. If I were to make a suggestion, it would be for a little medicine garden, where you plant those herbs you use the most — like a TULSI patch (it’s as easy to grow as the other basils), some uva ursi, calendula, cayenne, St. Johns wort, plantain, echinacea, goldenseal, chamomile, boneset, ginger, garlic, etc. You can lay them out in a wagon-wheel shape, or whatever floats your boat.

    Annmarie, Kevin, and Hudson, enjoy your new digs.

    As for Jonny 5 — he may have been an outdoor cat in the past, but it’s not a good idea. Outdoor cats kill songbirds very often and very efficiently, and being well-fed has no impact on their serial murder. It’s just how they’re wired. The NY Times had an article about it recently, and here’s a humorous take on a very serious subject:


    Health and peace.

  126. Renee' says:

    Kevin, that was interesting and fun to read and see! I feel like we (your readership/customers) are closer to you guys now. I’ll bum it a couple of ideas later, since your question of the day was would we wan to niter a contest and unmitigated an idea. Yes, looking forward to it. 🙂

  127. LynnCS says:

    Oh. And about that kewl lamp. Please don’t use it. You can’t have electricity out in the weather and the ground like that. It is undoubtedly not an exterior fixture, nor is it installed in the the right way. Nothing to play around with. A lamp under a porch roof, plugged into an exterior outlet might be different. But you probably already know that. Also never turn a fixture on and off by loosening the bulb. I’m guilty, but wanted to say that it can create an arc and thus a fire if the conditions are right. Not child safe to say the least. Hope you will have a lot of fun creating a great back yard. I’m not up for a contest, but good luck to all who do. Much love, Lynn

  128. Susan says:

    Your new home looks like it has good energy.

    The yard is missing a hammock.

    I’d be careful with the bamboo – I understand it can be invasive. You can contain it, though, by putting it behind and within a plastic strip (but talk to a garden center on how to do that).

    I would recommend planting native plants. They are good for the bugs and bees. Native bergamont is a cool plant. Native plants can take over, too, so you need to be careful where you put them. Besides flowers, I like garden sculpture for creating personality and serenity. I’m not talking about the tacky painted stuff you find in box stores but real art (although, I do have two plastic pink flamingos in my yard that were a must).

    My other suggestion is that I would like to know that when people do win something from your web site (unless they ask for privacy), I would like to know who won. It adds legitimacy to the contest and people like sharing in the joy of others. It might be fun to know what they are going to buy with the gift certificate.

    Finally, you need to sage your home and do a ceremony to keep the good chi : )

  129. Linda says:

    Call John from growing your greens!

  130. Ani says:


    Our yard is 100′ long and 16′ wide. I have 3 dwarf apple trees, a 3′ x 6′ space inside of a 325 sq. ft. garden area. In that area there is a walkway through the middle. One one side is our raspberry patch which we get a minimum of 1 gallon of berries from every year.. On the other side of that center path, we have 6 blueberry plants. By next year we will be picking 6 pints of blueberries from those plants.

    Oh, forgot to mention that we get 1 1/2 bu of apples off our trees every year. Also, we have a couple of blackberry plants and get a gallon of fruit off them as well every year.

    Fruit is not cheap where we live so I decided to grow the three most expensive of the fruits that we like. That was the best decision that we ever made. We also have a strawberry patch that is 3.5 ft. x 3.5 ft. We get more fresh strawberries than we can eat so I freeze some of them every year as well as we freeze blackberries and will freeze blueberries when we have enough of them. Plus we grow most of our own vegetables to freeze and have for during the winter.

    We have another small garden the is 3′ x 22′ and is 3 feet from the south side of our small house. There I have a permanent trellis going up the back side of the garden where we plant cucumbers, pole beans, cantaloupes and midget watermelons. Plus plant heirloom tomatoes that we eat fresh, dry and can.

    Then I plant carrots and get an average of 130 to 180 lb. of carrots max that I use for making us juice during the cold winter months. And I have not listed near all that we grow.

    Plus we have enough grass and path area to give our 92 lb. golden retriever plenty of run and stretch legs exercise. I grow collards and every once in a while there will be a more blue colored collard (from more calcium in that plant) and he jumps the fence, eats 90% of the collard then cries for help to get out of the garden.

    YOUR yard is very beautiful. Thank you so very much for sharing the photos…… it is very obviously much larger than our yard. And is also obvious that you, like me, put time and effort into making it be your space. Thank you so much again for sharing, it is a truly beautiful yard.

    The savings from our yard

  131. Dee says:

    Did I miss something? Are you eating eggs now?
    Are these rescued chickens? If not, what happens to them when they stop laying eggs?

  132. victoria says:

    Well, I commented already, but I can’t find the comment…..

    you had some line drawings of your yard layout and I can’t remember what it looked like, but the chickens will do okay in the shade of the tree you don’t want to cut down. Then, tomatoes don’t do very well if there isn’t a lot of sun, and they like warm nights the best, so pick the sunniest place in your yard for the tomatoes. Also, when you grow carrots, they take forever. My grandfather had us mix the carrot and radish seeds and plant them together, because by the time the radishes are harvested the carrots start to sprout. In a small urban garden, you can plant the melons against the fence and as the melons mature, ‘hamock’ them with nylon or t-shirt fabric to support the weight and nail the ‘hamocks’ to the fence or to a steak–vertical gardening. Grow a bit of corn and put the pumpkins/gourds in between the rows. And no free range chickens; they eat the things you want to eat! So put up fences around the plants or make the chickens stay in their area. Anyway, good luck with all of this! I am waiting to hear how it all turns out.

  133. Candace says:

    Hi Kevin,

    You commented that it was not the time to prune your plum trees. If your intention is to trim the trees without stimulating a lot of new growth, then summer is the time to do it. Summer pruning is done to control growth–winter pruning is to stimulate growth.

  134. Your yard has so much potential, looks like mostly shade and ferns love shade. I live in south Fl and have staghorn ferns and rabbit foot ferns (feels hairy like a rabbit–not the leaves). Both are very pretty and would add more beauty to your garden. You have a great start on veggies already and your Meyer Lemon tree is my favorite lemon. Didn’t see much space for a Hass avacado but what an addition that would be, probably needs full sun though. I compost only by digging a hole and putting peelings about a foot down–takes time but the earth gets a rich black in color.
    I, too, love figs and have a tree. I freeze some IF any left over. If there’s any of the ground growth that can’t be eaten it would be great place for berries if enough sun. I have herbs, arugula, chive, stevia and spearmint growing for tea. I love my basil that I use in pesto. Love your chicken coop.

  135. To start with, clean up everything in the back yard to bare ground if possible. Prune to half height, or take out some of the trees. A clear yard will look neater and give you the room and more options for the many ideas that people have submitted. Build your own solar panels for the roof, a number of programs are available on the Net. Water tanks underground or narrow ones against the house wall. A new carport, double or single down the driveway. Keep the existing one as is for other uses. If pruning or taking out large trees, use a contractor with insurance for possible damage. After that is done, organize a working bee for the yard and other projects and have a BBQ after. This gets the project done quickly.
    You will be flooded with ideas from everyone, so have a good supply of Scotch n Coke, Ha ha. Cheers.

  136. Anna says:

    My boys have always loved playing in sand and it’s great for them too. As I am not a big fan of sunscreen I have put their sandpit under a tree so that they can play in there for hours on end without the worry of sunburn. The car port would be a perfect spot to put a sandpit. I also put vegetable and strawberry plants nearby so that they could get a snack whenever they desired. I might add that my boys are fantastic eaters now and love salads and veges. You could put some pots or vertical gardens filled with lettuce, kale, peas, strawberries etc around or near the sandpit for some instant snacks. Some veges don’t need alot of sunshine or you could also move the pots. Here’s a great link for some vertical garden ideas. http://themicrogardener.com/20-creative-ways-to-upcycle-pallets-in-your-garden/. I’m also a great believer in children getting in contact with the earth. The grassy spot out the front with the tree would make a great little play area. You could put more vertical gardens along the fence with some beautiful flowers – children love flowers. As for the rest of the garden, plant veges, herbs and fruit and more veges, herbs and fruit. You could put a biopod in the chook (Australian for chicken) pen or make your own. (http://thebiopod.com/pages/biopod-plus.html) These are a great way of recycling your wastes and giving your chooks a great nutritious feed. I find that getting out into my vege garden is my meditation – I feel disconnected from everything except all the beautiful nature surrounding me. A little wander through the veges is a great way to start the day.

  137. You have a lot of potential in your garden, especially with the Californian climate. I live in Adelaide, South Australia, which is similar.
    Your biggest challenge will be getting enough sunlight and making enough compost to enrich the soil. It would pay to examine the soil in beds and the general garden for pH, organic matter, clay content (if it forms hard clods), etc. Resist using chemical fertilizer because your focus should be making the right organisms in the soil happy as these will provide the conditions for your plants to access their nutrition.

    Do you have a rainwater tank? That is good for soil bugs and an alternative for chlorinated mains water. If you can invest, an automatic watering system would be great for summer. I assume you have summer dry like we do.

    When Hudson is bigger, you could build him a Pea TeePee. You can grow sugar peas for grazing and it would be a nice cubby.
    Hanging gardens made from old pallets and shade cloth may be fun for plants that grow well in an aerial garden. They would go well on sunny or part shaded walls. may be a great option for increasing your range of herbs.
    Can you grow winter crops? We are blessed with year round growing in different seasons.
    I work as a volunteer in a school garden. Google Stefanie Alexander Kitchen Garden Program, it is foundational for future healthy people who learned to eat veggies at school!

  138. Debra says:

    What an amazing space.. Have fun!

  139. Mandy says:

    Nice! You’ve created a little slice of country living in the city. Good job!!

  140. Irene says:

    Hey Kevin! I just found this idea for a garden and chicken moat and thought it would be of interest.


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