Ohhhhh rawkstar! Today is such a good day! I get to show you around one of my most favorite places of all time… my own backyard. We call it “The Hansard Farm” around here, and I think you’ll see why soon enough.
I’m sorry if I went overload on the pics, but I wanted to show you EVERYTHING about the garden. I also want to give a special shoutout to Liz Bower for taking pics of us while her and her husband were visiting us a few months ago. When photos turn out this good, it’s really hard to just choose a few. 🙂
Garden Ideas into Reality
Growing up in Southern California, life moved at 500mph and we never seemed to be able to catch our breath. When we moved to Florida six years ago, the pace changed! We moved to a small farm town of 7,000 in central Florida. We technically live in a subdivision on the Tampa suburbs, but the dreams of living on a farm started to pop into my mind! I can literally drive 3 minutes down the road and see cow pastures, chicken farms and Arabian horse farms, so country life is all around me.
I crave the slow paced life, where our family gathers in the backyard to garden and play while the animals run around everywhere. Living on 1/3 acre with neighbors on both sides, hasn’t stopped us from turning our backyard garden ideas into reality.
Meet the Farm Animals
Two years ago, our family adopted 2 chickens, 2 rabbits and a guinea pig. We googled how to make a chicken coup that they could all live in together. Then we made a trip (or two or three) to Lowe’s, and started building.
We have learned a lot about “backyard defense” from having a few farm animals, including how short of a life cycle they can have if you don’t get it right! Sadly, we faced MANY predators, like foxes, raccoons and neighborhood dogs!
We have had to make a lot of changes to our initial coop. In fact, we are now on our third coup design and our second batch of chickens because the entire farm was attacked and killed one night! Thankfully my husband is really good at thinking outside the box and flexing his creative muscles. The new coop has been indestructible and our farm animals are super safe.
Last year, we added Huck the duck to the farm and she’s the mother to all the chickens. She tells then where to go and when to come to bed— its adorable. She’s also super cuddling with us and love to swim in her little pool.
Our chickens and Huck the Duck add so much energy to our backyard! They also add some beautiful and delicious eggs to our meals. It is so much fun to go out to the coup daily to see what they have left us. I love what it teaches our kids too about where our foods truly comes from. Look at these eggs:
SIMPLE RAISED GARDEN BEDS
If you follow along with us on Instagram (@simplegreensmoothies), you know how much I care about knowing where your food comes from. I am go grateful we are able to grow our own fruits and vegetables in our own backyard! It has been so rewarding to put in the hard work and be able to enjoy, not only the process, but the results!
A few years ago, Ryan, the kids and our friends Dan and Erin helped us build these raised garden beds. We love doing projects with our friends and are so thankful they almost always say yes to our invitations. Jackson and Clare joined me in planting our very first plants (strawberries and tomatoes)!
Over the years, we have added more and more veggies to our garden. Now my favorite things to grow are kale and cauliflower— I never thought I could do it. But look at this— I’m getting it down. The key to happy and healthy gardens is the compost. We compost all of our produce waste and feed it to our plants.
(the chickens love the kale too! 😉 )
DIY RAIN WATER COLLECTOR
In between the chicken coup and the flower bed, we have a rain water collector. This rain barrel is a great way to conserve our water on those hot Florida summer days. The kids love to use the watering can to give the plants a drink!
In the corner of our backyard garden, we have a beautiful butterfly garden that was my Mothers Day present a few years ago. We spent Mother’s Day shopping and planting together—
it was a very special day for us all. The butterflies are always fluttering through the air! It is such a peaceful part of our garden and I just love hanging out in the area just to watch the butterflies play.
QUICK TIP: If you want to attract the beautiful butterflies below called monarchs, plant Milkweed. It’s the only plant they eat and as soon as we planted it, the came to our yard!
OUR DUCK POND
Ohh, and of course Huck enjoys just hanging out in this corner of the Farm too! She has her own little pool to soak it all in. Every day I’ll find her chilling in the pool with the chickens drinking from it.
DIY COMPOST BIN
On the opposite side of the Farm, we have another really important part of our garden, the compost. We compost all of our food waste! By composting, we have pretty much eliminated the amount of garbage we have and it’s really helped our garden grow! Our compost makes the incredibly nutrient rich soil for our plants! Win Win!
Ryan is my compost man. He was way more passionate about enriching our soil with compost at first, but I’ve def seen the benefits of doing it. It’s just cool to know that every banana or orange peel is eventually going to become plant vitamins.
As I mentioned earlier, when I dream of our farm, I dream of a place where our family and friends gather. There is something for everyone in our backyard garden. Between the giant tree swing that friends and family helped us build, the slack line, tether ball, a fire pit, and picnic table, I am so proud to say that our backyard garden is full of laughter, community and fun!
The beauty of having a backyard garden is that it is always evolving. There is always something new budding or growing. I still dream of ways that we can add to our Hansard Farm— like a watermelon patch and some blueberry bushes. But in the meantime, I am loving the process and the way it has had me slow down and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me.
Have a backyard garden question?
I am so excited that I got to share my backyard garden with you! I hope you’ve enjoyed it and that it maybe gave you ideas for your own backyard garden. If you have any questions, please ask below. I would love to answer them! Thank you for joining me on the Hansard Farm Tour.
Hi, do you have any other posts or pictures on how you compost ? Looking for tips and tricks ! Thanks !
Hey Angela! Unfortunately, as of right now, we don’t.
I love everything about your page, very refreshing and down to earth! Can you tell me what is in the bottom of the veggie garden box that builds it up nice and high?
Seem expensive to build one if you have to fill the whole box up with soil..
I’m so glad you are loving our page! Thanks for asking a great question, here is what we do:
First, lay down a weed cloth to cover the whole bottom. Then, use cardboard or compostable paper (LOL, those Amazon boxes work great here) Next, add rocks and/or wood chips. Then, add regular old dirt (use the cheap stuff here). Finally, on the top layer I mix in compost and peat moss to nourish the soil for planting.
I don’t have any plans to have this type of garden, it’s just not for me, but I love the Simple Green Smoothies site and I LOVED seeing all your picturees Jen and reading the comments from other readers; I COULD FEEL THE ENTHUSIASM, and somehow even felt that I could shareit! Best wishes to everyone!
Thanks for the love, Mary! You need to make gardening work for you! Having a farm has always been Jen’s passion, but we know it’s not for everyone.
I love the dish that you are putting your eggs into! Where is it from?
Thanks for the egg love, Kristy. You can find the dish here…
Hello Jen,I start with some basil and tomatoes, I don’t have much space, I was wondering how I keep bugs out from eating all the leaves. It seem like they keep coming with more friends.
Should I start again? Is it bad if the bugs are there?are not good anymore?
Having trouble with bugs, especially on your tomato plants? I use a mild solution of water + a few drops of dish soap and a spray bottle. It’s a more natural way to keep those bugs at bay.
We just finished two raised beds in our backyard and have 4 chickens. Struggling with figuring out our composting area as our yard is much smaller (0.18 acre) property and don’t want to have the smell or rats (eek) near our house. Any suggestions? Thanks for inspiring us all!