Turn Your Yard Into An Abundant Food Supply: Outdoor + Indoor Gardening
Kristin | On 17, Nov 2014
A number of years ago I became acutely aware of the importance of sustainability and growing one’s own food, for a multitude if reasons including health and practicality.
I thought about how much sense it makes to grow my own food and, as a result, never wonder where it came from or what had been added to it.
I started to contemplate transforming my yard into a wonderland of fruits, vegetables, and herbs. I saw myself in overalls and a straw hat going out each day to tend my crop and it all felt pretty cool! Then I came back to reality. I began to think about all I would give up in the way of a beautifully landscaped yard, with decorative plantings and flowers.
When I was a kid my grandmother and grandfather had a very large yard and they used every inch of it to grow fruits and vegetables. They were raised in a different era where sustainability was inherent in their way of life. But today, with foods readily available from the grocery store, we’ve become dependent on commercially available food and view our yards as places of beauty and leisure. However, it is possible to design your space to complement a healthy lifestyle and be decoratively pleasing.
The first thing I decided to do in order to get my edible garden going, was to “carve out” a specific location and definitive space. I chose an area right near the back door, off of the patio. Not only would it look lovely, but it was also a convenient location to go out and harvest my crop. LOL (and yes, I have a handled basket that I go out to collect my ripened items)!
I’m lucky to have a good size yard, but after lacrosse nets, swing sets, a patio, doggie potty area, a patio and a bit of landscaping for visual appeal, I had to admit, my space was somewhat limited.
I did a little research on small space gardening and realized I needed to do three things…
(1) Build raised beds and use stones to outline the area in order to separate it from the rest of the grassy area
(2) Make sure my irrigation system was set up throughout that small garden area so it wasn’t necessary to go out and manually water constantly (if you do not have the luxury of an irrigation system be sure to set up some sprinklers so you can turn them on regularly in the morning and the evening to keep the plants well watered).
(3) Select and grow foods that were going to be complementary to one another and had the best chance for survival in my geographic area and in small spaces.
Definitely take your time and talk to experts at your local nursery about the best items to plant based on the specific needs of your space. I found publications like House & Garden helpful for garden plans and layouts.
Another thing I did to maximize space was to utilize LOTS of planters!
I literally lined the entire perimeter of my patio with large, lightweight, flower pots in which I planted a variety of herbs, lettuces, and vegetables. There are many small and mini vegetable varieties that are perfect for limited space gardens, namely planters which look gorgeous outside during the warm weather and then can be transferred indoors as the weather gets cooler.
You can also combine herbs into the same pot, which gives you a wonderfully lush look and minimizes your need for extra planters.
Okay, so what have I grown? In any given season my little raised garden bed contained cucumbers, green beans, a variety of tomatoes, including plum and beefsteak, lots of lettuce varieties including arugula; broccoli and zucchini.
In the larger planters, at the entrance to my yard, I planted cherry tomatoes and strawberries. I found out after my first year of growing strawberries that they are perennials and was thrilled to see them coming back the next Spring!!
Around my patio and up the steps to the back door I have basil, rosemary, lavender, dill, chives, oregano, parsley, sage, and thyme. It’s just wonderful to have a fresh salad each night and cook meals with your own veggies!
Over the long winter I bring all my planters in and line them against all the windows in my indoor sunroom (but you can put these great plants near any windows you have.) By bringing the outdoors inside, you will transform your room with the greens of the herbs and baby lettuces and make it aromatic at the same time! Not to mention, enjoy fresh salads and seasonings.
I picked up sunlight floor lamps for additional light for the indoor garden. Add to your “outdoor inside” filling decorative glass bowls with lemons or pomanders made with oranges or tangerine decorated with fresh cloves for great scents and to add to the natural, garden design.
A little trick I got from my Dad, for having fresh herbs for cooking throughout the year, is to chop up fresh dried herbs, fill them with water in ice trays, and freeze. When you are cooking sauces, gravies and other hot dishes, throw in a cube of the desired herb.
Designing your surroundings to fit your lifestyle is really easy, with an open mind and a little creativity!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Elisa Levine lives in Garden City, New York with her husband, three daughters, and dog, Liberty. She is an entrepreneur whose professional career has included a variety of businesses in the toy, licensing and direct marketing businesses. Since her teen years, she has traveled extensively throughout the US, Europe, and Asia. Today she is a stay at home mom and writer, whose passions are traveling, cooking and shopping. She currently writes a travel blog with her cousin, Tanya about their travel adventures as moms and cousins: travelincousins.com.