The top 5 Summer Projects for Garbarino Acres

The best thing about living out here is that we no longer have those big looming questions of what our next plan is. If you know us at all, you know that we always have a big idea in mind. And well, we’re in it right now. The kids are settled, I’ve registered them into local activities for spring time, we’ve gotten the family dog, I’ve finally met our neighbours, and I’ve even managed to get some exercise in.

Since Spring is merely two days away, we’ve been trying to tackle our main project list to make sure we take advantage of the early springtime to get some major work done. I know we should take it slow, but we’ve got some major projects in the works:


Including: fencing solution, new chicken coop, space for greenhouse, potential pig pen and outdoor patio/pergola space, future water feature for ducks, area for beehives… you get the picture.

Landscape design and more specifically site plans, are design categories that I’ve been drawn to since I picked up this bible at the age of 7.  My mom had received it at Christmas and well,  I fell in love with each and every page in that book. I still have it in my own bookcase now. Inspired by the sketches and the loose informal English gardens, I discovered and designed my dream home and garden. The estate was not a modest one, no I had large ambitions in life at that age! It had three houses (one for my parents, my sister and my very own private house), a stable, two tennis courts, a rose garden, an outdoor pool, a large orchard and a few kitchen gardens. I drew the whole thing on graph paper and I hand selected each tree, shrub and flower using my mother’s Time Life Garden Encyclopedia Volumes.

garden plan

{plans for Brighton, England by Joseph Stadler. Courtesy of the NYPL Digital Gallery}

Screenshot (59)

{my poorly drafted AutoCAD Grounds Plan for Garbarino Acres. Yes, that is a typo in the word forrest. I’m french damn it }


truedatorp-exterior-side-window{Truedatorp Estate via Dwell Magazine}


{gorgeous example of white wood exterior from Michele at Welcome Home who gives a really in depth home tour which is awesome}

This is a terrifying project, if I’m being honest. It’s easy enough to help people with interiors, but exteriors? That stuff stays on FOREVER and speaks volume of what the house represents. We have a couple of different ideas about what material we should use, and a basic color scheme (black, white and red) but very clueless about what’s best for the house, what’s best for the budget and what’s easiest to install. When you’re responsible for all the labour on a project, sometimes choosing the easiest product to work with is the way to go. I keep trying to drive that home, but my audience is on the stubborn side!

So new siding this year for sure, and then a new porch/front door for next year. We’ve decided to stay put with our windows for now. Maybe we’ll change up the interior ones, but the cachet of the original 6 pane windows is unparalleled. Except if we were to get new wood windows, each costing as much as a year of private school for the kids. Not an option.


IMG_0362{2013 Veggie Patch at the Benny Community Garden}

As you can guess, this one is my favorite. We’re tripling our square footage from the past years at the Benny Garden and opting for a long and narrow raised bed structure. This will help us maximize the yield of the plot, ambitious, I know.  After reading this book (you can watch a short clip about them here) though,  I was really inspired to change the way I viewed plant spacing and vegetable gardening in general.  Needless to say, I’ve spent hours plotting out companion arrangements and organizing how we’ll rotate the crops in the coming years. We’ll need to order a load of topsoil, and buy some tools… I’m gunning for a broadfork and a roto seeder, but Bruno is a bit of a purist and I’m sure we’ll end up using something he’ll have jimmied out of an old garden hose with a fork.

Anyways, I also want to fence off the garden, as a means of adding another decorative item in the back fields, using the weirdo random fences that we’ll be replacing along the perimeter of the property. It’ll also ward off any wild or domesticated animals or even children. I ‘m working on a hand painted “Emeline Only” sign for the front gate…

We’ll be trying new-to-us-crops like corn, kale, radicchio, melons, beets and some other tasty treats. Regular on the roster is cucumber,  chard, carrots, arugula, beans, peas, tomatoes, cilantro  We’ll have to relocate our existing raspberry patch to somewhere with better sunlight, but I’m ok to push that back to the 2016 Project List. Even I have my limits!



This is going to be a gamechanger for sure! We’re sourcing out different options and have touched base with many people who raise chickens here (everyone does it here) to figure out what the best system is. You can buy the hatchlings for 1$ or the laying hen for 12$. Problem is you have to wait 5 months before your hatchlings can start laying and the instant gratification portion of my character, well it  just can’t wait that long for my very own fresh farm eggs.

Other decision is whether to try and scout heritage breed, or just opt for the easy industrialized bred “Layers” or “Roasters”… Again, sometimes the easiest path is the best? Although raising industrialized bred birds seems counter-intuitive to the whole process of slow-farming. Dilemma for sure.




{courtesy of Sarah Sherman of Smitten Studio… girl’s got taste is all I can say!}

Whaaaaaaat? Have we won the lottery? Nope. But a recent water + 7 year old child related incident has made it clear to us that we’ll need to attack this room sooner rather than later. The tiles are cracked, the faucets move in the wall and the whole place is covered in baby blue vinyl wallpaper. Not to mention the fact that there are secret windows built into the walls people. INTO THE WALLS. Needless to say, I am so relieved that Bruno can do all the plumbing and electrical work. We’ll opt for something easy and functional, maybe I’ll be able to geek out on the faucets and fixtures a little. I’m also lucky that Bruno has a penchant for the modern clean aesthetic and even mentioned the words “scandinavian” and “clean lines” when discussing the vision for that space.

So there you have it, the 5 top projects that will be keeping us busy and draining our bank accounts for our very first summer here at Garbarino Acres. They are crazy, and maybe we’ll only finish one of them… but at least itemizing them here makes the list seem more approachable and systematic.

So here’s to a busy busy springtime!


2 thoughts on “The top 5 Summer Projects for Garbarino Acres

  1. Hooray! I love all these plans! I’m envious, but I’ll grow a few veggies on my balcony and dream of acres. Speaking of, if you still need seeds, although I’m guessing you’re way ahead of me, I got mine from here ( last year and they were mind blowing, in terms of taste and being big producers. Loving the blog!
    Wendy (Sweetchops)

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