For our next Virtual Garden Tour, I want to introduce you to Victoria Jordan, who dreamed up this beautiful homestead after retiring in 2005. With the help of her family, Victoria runs this very active farm she lovingly named Rooted Vine Homestead.
11 citrus trees • 2 almond trees • 2 cherry trees • 12 apple trees • 10 grapevines • 4 pomegranate trees • 5 peach trees • 2 pluot tree • 1 aprium tree • 2 nectarine trees • 1 apricot tree • 3 plum trees • 1 quince tree • 3 fig trees • 50 other trees for blooms, leaves, or needles • 24 raised vegetable beds • chickens • goats and sheep
…But I didn’t start out that way!
In 2005 I was in living in a condo in California. My son and his family were living out here in Arizona, and for various reasons it seemed time for me to come out here also. So I sold my condo in California and bought this property after looking at a few photos my son sent me. A lot of prayer went into this, and I believe God brought me to this place, because without faith, buying this property without visiting it would have made no sense at all. Life took a different turn than expected, however, and I did’t actually end up living here full time until I retired in 2013.
Property in 2005
I know it doesn’t look like much in the above photos, but this one acre lot seemed the perfect place to fulfill my farm girl dreams of a sustainable life. I envisioned all that space being used to grow food to share with my children and grandchildren.
Planting Begins 2006
Right away I remodeled and started planting trees.
Color, Blooms & Fruit
In back, I started an orchard with peaches, plums, apples, and almonds.
I put a pool in and used the dirt to channel the flood irrigation water where more trees were planted. We built barns, purchased horses, and installed a riding arena, and finished some remodeling. And then…
The trees grew and grew and shaded everything. Unfortunately, they shaded out the vegetable beds as well as my flower beds.
Change is Good!
The horses went (grandkids not interested), leaving lots of great horse manure so we moved the veggie beds back to what was the riding arena. However, that meant lots of clay underneath with a sand topping, not the best for vegetables. I still have problems with watering these beds since the understory of clay repels the water so that it leaks out to the walking paths.
Note: The first ten raised beds were made using these plans from Sunset magazine. The others have been built with Frame it All corner joints and 2 x 6′ redwood boards. About 60% have hardware cloth on the bottom, and in those that do not I am having a major gopher problem.
Goats and Chickens!
In 2013 I became a permanent resident, which meant I could now get my dairy goats. So in October 2013 I purchased 2 bred does from Snowflake, Arizona. By March, there were 3 more. I also bought a bred ewe and lamb, and again these multiplied.
I bought my first chickens back in 2011, but now it really felt like a farm.
New Direction – Permaculture!
After taking a course in Permaculture Design from the Valley Permaculture Alliance, I had a new direction for my garden. One important change is that almost nothing leaves this place as waste. The animal bedding goes down as mulch around the front trees, tree trimmings are chipped and mulched, and chicken manure is composted. I even use wool to mulch in the orchard.
Composting in Vegetable Beds
Many Chickens make Light Work!
In many areas, because of the mulch, it is like walking on a sponge. Much of my veggie beds have been composted right in the bed. We built this chicken tractor to fit right on the raised beds.
I now have a compost yard just for the chickens to enjoy. But both the four legged and two legged animals get to free range. I do try to do rotational grazing by both the birds and the ruminants. I have fencing to channel them to different areas. By the way, the chickens multiplied also… now have two chicken coops and a coop for growing chicks.
My Favorite Things!
One of my gardening pride and joys I brought with me from California… my potted blueberries. They have done really well for me here until last year when they got a major sunburn before I got them shaded. But they are coming back.
My other favorite things are my vegetable beds and the view from my windows during those hot summer months…it is cooling just in itself.
And the best part… I get to share it all with my family!
It has been such a blessing to have this place for family gatherings, family retreats, and just a safe place.
Challenges & Goals
Some of my challenges and things I would do differently…the work of this place is a big challenge as I get older. At 71 and on my own, this is one of my biggest challenges. I could not do this at all without the help I get from family and friends. I also would not put in a Cottonwood tree unless I had 5 acres. It is about ready to take over my orchard and pasture area with its suckers. I would not put in a pool if I could do it over again. It was great fun for the family for about 2 years. Although I will have to say I enjoy jumping in on summer mornings after barn and garden chores are done for the day. I would also try to get more of my plantings irrigated by the flood irrigation as the city water bill can be a challenge. I have not been able to grow blackberries even though planted several. And have not been able to ripen tomatoes in the fall season.
I have another challenge I am beginning to notice. My orchard area is actually in the channel that the flood irrigation takes as it flows to the rest of the property. The flood irrigation is bringing in a lot of dirt and sand and the ground level on those fruit trees is moving up the trunks. I am going to lose them if I cannot figure out a way to dig them out and buffer them against that.
And fighting the SHADE. Professional tree pruning and removal is expensive. I would not have planted as many decorative trees. I would like to figure out how to grow some roses and flowers in the shade I now have in my front yard.
I also have trees that are dying from the inside of the canopy out and I am not sure what is going on.
But it is all a learning process.
Glory to God
The name of this place is Rooted Vine Homestead because of the references in Jeremiah 17: 7-8 and Psalms 1:1-3 to a man being blessed who trusts in the Lord and whose hope is in Him being like a tree planted by the waters…and will not fear when heat comes, but its leaf will be green and not wither, not be anxious in year of drought, nor cease from yielding fruit. It was such a visual lesson to me of the life-giving property of water to this piece of land that I realized what a promise this is for those who do trust in Him. It is a picture before me, and my loved ones, of the promises of God but also the instructions…to trust Him, believe Him, be rooted in Him.
But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8 NIV