Tour a Cape Cod Homesteader's Garden

This little bit of land accommodates chicken-raising, bee-keeping and vegetable gardening among perennial gardens.

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Image courtesy of Peter Crosson

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

Photo By: Photo by Melissa Caughey

A Cape Cod Gardener

When I'm not blogging at the award winning Tilly's Nest, you can find me in my eclectic garden tailored to the Cape's Northeastern climate.

Hellebores

It's easy to tell that the Northeastern garden has awakened from its winter slumber when the hellebores begin to bloom despite the chill and snow dustings.

Early Spring

As the back garden begins to awaken from its winter slumber, a fresh layer of screened wood chips serves as mulch. My husband and I installed the blue stone patio ourselves, complete with cobblestone edging. The rustic bolder retaining walls add a natural look to the hardscape.

The Side Garden

In the side garden, four Adirondack chairs and an umbrella offer a lovely spot for seating to enjoy the gardens. The vegetable garden is neatly tucked off to the side. The vegetable garden is surrounded by a three foot garden fence, just high enough to keep out the bunnies and free-ranging chickens.

The Vegetable Garden

For a family of four, this vegetable garden comprised of five raised beds supplies a wonderful assortment of vegetables and herbs throughout the growing season. The garden incorporates vertical growing techniques to help maximize space.

Spring Asparagus

Growing asparagus takes patience. Harvesting of the asparagus begins on three year old crowns. It is a perennial favorite that loves a good feeding of bone meal and manure. These spears are ready for harvest.

Strawberries

The everbearing variety of strawberries continues to provide fruit throughout the entire growing season. They are a family favorite. In a matter of days, these green berries will turn red and will be ready for harvesting.

Beehive Placement

Two beehives are tucked adjacent to the vegetable garden. Here they receive some shade and are warmed by the summer sun. The entrances face away from the vegetable garden as to not interrupt the flight path of the bees.

Plant a Pollinator Garden

I allow my herbs to bloom for the bees. The honeybees just adore sipping the nectar from these oregano blossoms. Here are some tips to garden for pollinators. 

Room to Grow

This beehive over wintered as a smaller hive called a nuc. Here I'm getting ready to introduce it into an empty regular sized hive.

A Quick Inspection

As I transition the new hive, I check for signs of a laying queen. I look for a good brood pattern, larvae and eggs. If I'm lucky I will spot the queen. It's easier when she is marked, but it's not uncommon for the queen's attendant bees to clean off the marking placed by the beekeeper.

Busy as a Bee

In the Northeast, the bees will work from spring until late October foraging for nectar and pollen.

Harvested Honey

Not all years guarantee the backyard beekeeper with honey. It is important that you do not remove the honey stores for the bees that they require to survive the winter. This year I was lucky. Spring had a wonderful nectar flow and I had a wonderful harvest. See how I harvest my honey.

A Unique Garden Visitor

Often mistaken for a hummingbird, this hummingbird moth mimics the movements and feeding patterns of hummingbirds. They too are pollinators and love to frequent pollinator plantings, like this butterfly bush.

Secret Nests in the Gardens

I discovered this dainty robin's nest tucked in between the branches of one of their rhododendrons. Larger bushes and shrubbery encourage backyard birds to take up residence in your gardens. Here are more of my tips for encouraging backyard birds.

Irises in Bloom

A lovely array of irises bloom in the gardens. I love irises for their slender spiky foliage. They add an interesting element when not in bloom.

Gooseberries

Fruit bearing bushes such as blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and gooseberries are tucked throughout the landscape. I don't mind sharing these with the wild birds and my chickens.

Cape Cod Hydrangeas

Cape Cod is synonymous with hydrangeas. Hydrangeas thrive in the sandy soil and coastal climate. Here 'Nikko Blue' hydrangeas are planted with tall ornamental grasses adjacent to the sun room.

Hydrangea Blossom

This hydrangea blossom's green shade will soon turn a lovely light blue.

Water Features

Birdbaths are located in various places on the property. They provide a water source for the bees as well as a place for the wild birds to take a bath. The birdbaths are cleaned out on a weekly basis and refilled with fresh water.

Butterflies Galore

Butterflies and moths frequent the garden. They love to sit for a spell on the daisies.

Annual Planters

I don't shy away from combining annuals, herbs and leafy vegetables in my planters. Their unique foliage adds to the visual interest. This also allows me to grow more plantings for use in the kitchen. Garden statuary also adds a touch of whimsy.

The Chicken Coop

I designed my coop to fit the Cape Cod coastal style and tucked it into a quiet pocket of her garden. I even created the garden around the chicken coop with the chickens in mind. This entire garden features plantings completely edible for the flock. Get inspired with these chicken coop designs.

Chicken Coop Entrance

I painted the door on this chicken coop a lovely green. This helps me to retain lovely color in the garden even in the middle of the snowy winters.

Meet the Flock

The chickens spend most of their time protected from predators in their coop and run. On most days, the chickens are allowed outside to free-range with supervision in the late afternoon.

Goodies for the Flock

During the growing season, I am able to share extra produce with my flock. Here they are enjoying greens and beet tops.

Freshly Laid Eggs

I harvest the chicken eggs a couple times per day. My chickens lay a variety of colored eggs and various sizes due to my mixed breed flock.

Free-Range Chickens

The chickens love to spend time in the gardens exploring and making a mess. Luckily with a small garden rake, they are easy to pick up after.

Baby Chickens

This year I added to my flock. The smaller chickens stayed in a small coop outside the larger coop. The little chickens remained here until they were large enough to transition into the larger coop with the older chickens. Here's how you can build your very own chicken coop.

Outdoor Bouquets

Who says all bouquets need to live indoors? When the lilacs and other blooms are abundant, I loves to tuck them into vintage watering cans around the gardens.

The Front Gardens

The front garden also features a beautiful perennial garden and looks out over the nature sanctuary that is adjacent to our property. This garden is filled with coneflowers, daisies, Russian sage, lamb's ear and lilies.

Blooming Black-Eyed Susan

The black-eyed Susans are prolific and rapidly fill up empty space in the garden. Here they are just getting ready to unfurl their blooms.

Honeybee Landing

One of my bees prepares to land on this coneflower. Coneflowers come in a variety of colors including the traditional pink, yellow and green. They are one of my garden favorites.

A Mixed Harvest

It doesn't take much space to enjoy the benefits of homesteading. Most homes can accommodate a small raised bed or two, a beehive, and a small chicken coop with a couple of egg laying hens. Be sure to check with your local zoning laws to be sure homesteading is supported in your backyard.