Facet #5 – Easily Extend your Home to the Garden

Most people think of ‘homemaking’ as activities inside the home. But in reality, homemaking includes making sure you extend your home to the garden. If you really think about it, stepping out the back door to do your ‘grocery shopping’ is a natural extension of the home.

There are several ways you can extend your home to the garden. First, you can create a kitchen garden right outside the back door. Second, you can simply create a pathway to a plot located a bit further. Or you can create a theme garden in smaller areas using containers.

extend your home with a kitchen garden filled with large squash plants and other vegetables

Extend Your Home to the Garden with a Kitchen Garden

Often referred to as a Potager, Kitchen Gardens are a perfect way to extend your home to the garden. They have been around possibly as far back as the Biblical era of Mesopotamia, Babylon and Egypt. In the Middle Ages, the Monks were famous for their gardens. Because of their religious practice of being secluded from the outside world, it was necessary for them to grow all of their own foods. Kitchen gardens are based on visual appeal, as well as productivity.

Where Shaker and Victory gardens would be planted on the flat in rows, a Kitchen garden may be raised beds, or smaller beds with pathways connecting each one. Some Kitchen gardens also offer some type of water feature, such as a fountain, either in the center of the garden, or tucked into one of the smaller beds.

a small garden with stone borders; a woman holding a basket filled with vegetables

Whether a feature is used or not, Kitchen gardens are always planted in close proximity to a water source. A traditional Kitchen Garden is almost literally a way to extend your home to the garden as they are placed close to the Kitchen or back door and is usually enclosed with a wall or some type of fencing. It is lush with vegetables, herbs, small fruit plants or shrubs, and flowers, either used for companion planting, cutting or culinary needs.

Another difference in a Kitchen garden is the incorporation of some type of fruit tree. This tree is usually a dwarf, to prevent too much shading, and is placed either in the center of the garden, or in a corner. Be sure to choose a self-pollinating variety, or plant at least two for pollination. Underneath the tree are small beds with the plants that either need or can tolerate some shade.

In order to maintain order, companion planting is used to help ward off insects, diseases, and to promote healthy growth.

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Creating a Kitchen Garden

Planting a kitchen garden is one of the best ways to extend your home to the garden.  To create one does take a little time.

First, choose the best location for your garden. Be sure it gets at least 8 hour of sunlight a day, and has easy access to water. Next, measure the space.

From there, think about what you want to grow. Each fruit, vegetable and herb requires different amounts of sunlight, water, and spacing. If you are like me, you want to plant one of everything. But it’s better to start off small. Choose the plants you know your family will eat, and the herbs that work well to flavor those foods.

Next, determine the planting areas. A raised bed garden is easy to lay out. Just make sure to leave room between them in order to get to all sides easily.

If you want something that ‘flows’ with the landscape, consider adding rocks or edging that will curve with your design.

a weathered raised bed planted with lettuce

Once you have an idea of what you want, draw your design out on paper. Mark each bedding section with the plant you want. Be sure to sketch in pathways that are at least 28” in width, to make access to each section easier. And if you choose a water feature, bird bath or other ornamentation, be sure to draw that in as well.

Once you have the final design ready, be sure to prep the dirt before the first piece of fencing or garden border goes in. It is much easier to till or double dig ground that has no obstacles to work around. Be sure to add amendments, such as compost, as well. More can be added later, but it is better to start with healthy soil.

Now that your soil is prepped, it is time to start building your garden. Start in the center, and work out. That way, it is easier to expand a bit if necessary, or adjust the size of your outmost beds.

a selecton of terra cotta posts on a shelf filled with herbs and assorted plants

Theme Gardens

Growing your own food is a given, but what if we want a little bit of fun when it comes to designing it? What if we have space restrictions? That is where garden plans and themes come in handy.

Theme gardens are one of the easiest ways to extend your home to the garden. Depending on your space, you can have multiple gardens throughout your yard, add them to flowerbeds, or just have different size and shapes of containers.

Theme gardens can accommodate almost any size space you have. The best part is, your plan and theme doesn’t have to be restrictive. The overall theme for my main garden is a combination of Shaker, Victory and Kitchen. However, I also have an herb garden, and a few container plants.

A fun way to plant a theme garden is in an old wagon wheel. Planting is done between each spoke, and can range from herbs to a combination of herbs, vegetables and flowers.

a balcony with a wooden bistro table surrounded by a container garden

Create your Theme Garden

Before you extend your home to the garden with a theme garden, it is best to determine how much space you have. If you live in an apartment or condo and only have a small patio, then you still need room to move around. You will need to choose containers that allow room for the plant to grow, and room for you to tend to the plants.

If you live in a house with a small yard, consider using flowerbeds or a sunny location in your yard. And don’t forget, you can combine in-ground planting with containers to add more growing room!

Once you have measured your space, determine the size containers you can use. A half whiskey barrel (considered an extra-large container) is perfect for planting more than one thing, such as in an Italian Garden. Plant one Roma tomato plant in the center, and then surround it with your choice of Basil, Oregano or Garlic.

Smaller containers can hold one plant of your choice. A medium or large pot can be used for growing vertical plants such as beans and cucumbers. Just add a trellis to the center, or even the back, and plant around it.

a neat row of tomato plants with straw for mulch

Extend Your Home to the Garden

There are so many ways you can easily extend your home to the garden. With a little bit of vision, ingenuity, and some work, you can grow your own grocery store right outside your back screen door!

Growing the Best Garden

If you want to extend your home to the garden and need to know more about gardening in general, including themes, here are some posts that will help:

5 Easy Steps to Grow an Awesome Garden

The Shaker Garden

Bellissimo! It’s What Happens with Amazing Italian Vegetables

How to Plan the Best Garden using the Moon Signs and Phases

Theme Gardens

Spring Flowers – How to Embrace Life with Beauty

When you Need to Order Seeds…

3 Delightful Herbs You’ll Love

Mini Compost Bin

VIctory Gardens!

Ready for More?

If you want more on Homemaking than to just extend your home to the garden, be sure to read the first posts in the series. And stay tuned! There is more to come!

8 Facets of Homemaking

Facet #1 – Clean your Home

Facet #2 – Planning Meals

Facet #3 – The User-Friendly Kitchen

Facet #4 – Finances and Frugal Living

Facet # 6 – 7 Smart Reasons You Need to Can Your Own Food

Facet # 7 – Tips for General Maintenance and Repairs for the Home

The Homemaker’s Resume

Julie Murphree is a blogger, newspaper columnist, and speaker on all things ‘Living a Simple Life on the Farm’. She is the author of \\\'The Farm Wife – Living a Simple Life on the Farm. She and her husband have 60 acres in NW Louisiana where they actively work on living as sustainable as possible.

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