Beginning the Big Garden Clean Up

We have a lot of trees here on the homestead…lots… of… trees. We love our majestic White Oak trees not only for their immense grandeur and beauty and for the oxygen they give us but also for the shade they provide to us over our non-air conditioned home.

Fresh bark chips in rround tree bed USE

The bed around the crabapple tree is now cleaned out and fresh bark chips added.

But the downside to trees is that they also mean a ton of leaves and a lot of garden and yard clean up come spring (and fall too.). We started the big flower bed(s) clean-up project this week. My goal is to get this leaf pick-up work done before I begin to plant the vegetable garden. Some years I make that goal, some years I do not.

Front door area USE

Sidewalk to our front door and bed area to right was here when here we moved here. I would have created it differently!

Gene is into all things mechanical so this means, left blower, leaf suckers, lots of noise and long green electric cords. I’m a lot more low-tech. I usually just sit on my bottom on a foam pad, scooting along and cleaning beds out using my hands and putting the leaves into a 5-gallon plastic bucket. I do use our Cart Vermont wooden garden cart to cart haul them to the woods and put them on the trails. Not one bit of those leaves go to waste.

Planter box USE

Brick raised bed planters cleaned out for the season.

This year after I removed the leaves I also added bark chip mulch because our old mulch had pretty much turned into new soil. This is called the Back to Eden method of gardening, a practice I started some 15 years ago long before I ever heard of that method.

Cart in driveway USE

Cart and gear in driveway awaiting leaves.

Luckily I only have to add bark chips every few years but this is the year unfortunately.  So it’s going to be a big year of working in the garden…Thank goodness Gene finally quits his job at Menard’s on April 28, also his 70th birthday. We will begin to draw from his IRA to make up the gap that his pension and our social security do not fill. We will both be, finally… fully retired.

Traingle bed USE

Another view of our front door bed with my cement chickens.

He is now going to go to work for me!!

Small House Homesteader, Donna

This Gem of a Garden Cart is Essential for us on the Homestead

This Cart Vermont (what they call their large garden cart) was THE first present Gene and I bought each other a few months after moving to the Small House. This was before I even knew that our spread was going to be called that.

This was our Christmas present to each other that year. Fourteen years later, I now I use it nearly every day and I can’t imagine life on the homestead without it. It is USA-made crafted of wood and metal, has superior craftsmanship, and the company offers replacement wheels and parts, making it a worthy and sustainable product in my book, and I’m tough on products as a consumer.


Source: Carts Vermont website

Our cart hauls buckets of soil, compost and manure as well as our heavy window air conditioners to and from the pole barn. With 47 White Oak trees (plus all the other types of trees we have) I use it to pick up twigs, branches and everything else blown down from our tree canopy after nearly every thunder or windstorm. It is not unusual for me to have 20+ carts full of twigs to haul to the burn pile after our typical 6 months of winter of deep snow, high wind and frequent ice.

We haul firewood in it, blankets when doing remodeling, fence pieces, evergreens, perennials, piles of leaves and much, much more. I have never been fond of wheel barrows as they tip over on me and this sturdy, stable and solid cart works like a charm.

Cart logo and wheel USE

The companies wood burned logo give you an idea of the quality of the wood and the bike wheels.

Our cart is already 14 years old and showing a bit of wear but it is as dependable as ever. We’ve had to repair the tires, buying new inner tubes a few times, resealed the wood with polyurethane and greased the axles but even with our heavy use this little gem of a cart is still going strong.

Large Garden Cart Dimensions:

Dimensions Inside: Length: 47.50″ Width: 31″ Depth: 16″ Capacity: 13.60 cubic feet

Dimensions Overall: Length: 67.25″ Width: 41.50″ Height: 30.25″

Max Weight Capacity: 400 lbs. with heavy-duty 26″ wheels (we recommend the solid tires when ordering)

The large garden carts are priced on their website today at $424.95 and although I did not pay that much fourteen years ago, I do feel it is worth the cost. Nothing irritates me more than buying a product that you cannot get replacement parts for and have to scrap it before its time.

Cart in front of barn

Our cart sits in front of The Small House Homestead pole barn waiting for the next project.

You can see more about them on their website at Please realize that I am not being paid anything for this “commercial.” I am just a homesteader, a real-life user and a true-test-of-time believer.

Gene trimming garden cart

Our cart really comes in handy when Gene is cutting back the ornamental grasses

Since I was snowed in our first winter here and without a vehicle, I did my shopping on-line. Gene, unfortunately had rolled my Subaru on the black ice our first winter in the country and I was without a vehicle for about 6 weeks. That was not a good winter, let me tell you. I did my cart shopping on-line and from all the options out there I selected the Carts Vermont brand. I have never been sorry!

cart angled

We often use 5-gallon buckets to haul soil and compost in our garden cart. The buckets are an easy haul and dump for me.

I can’t imagine life on the homestead without this workhorse of a cart!

Small House Homestead Donna