Think “OUTside” the Garden

With so many things to do in the garden, it’s a wonder you can plan for tomorrow, let alone next week or month—but you should try.  The payoff will be well worth it.  From fastidious pruning for an increase in yield, to prepping for vegetable storage when your harvest comes in, you’ll want to be ready for the abundance of joy you’re going to reap!

What should you be thinking about when it comes to crafting this marvelous plan?  Why, your kids for one!  Are they weeding?  Digging?  Bug dispatching?  Wonderful!  Reward them with some “down-time” in the garden, as in “no chores.”  You do want them to come back, don’t you?

teacher's gift

We’ve all heard about creating the classic corn husk dolls, but have you considered using those same husks to make mini baskets?  Basket weaving is an excellent exercise for little fingers to practice dexterity—beats the DS hands down—as well as producing a keepsake for their bedroom, or a share for school.

Growing berries?  Perfect!  How about mixing them with a dash of organic sugar and make your own preserves?  They make great teacher gifts.  Speaking of teachers, how about teaching your children the value of seed saving?  When all these vegetables reach maturity, they’ll be chock-full of seeds.   How about collecting them and storing them in your very own seed packets?  (You can find simple how-to templates in the Kid Buzz section here on the website)

But these fun-filled activities don’t have to be limited to the kids.  Now that you’re growing your own fruit and vegetables, consider becoming a totally self-sustaining garden.  You may even want to designate a special section to the cause, because some plants don’t produce seeds the first season; carrots and onions for one. 

Beans are easy.  I love beans.  (So do kids!) Simply free them from their pods and dry them out.  They’ll easily keep until your next planting season.  Tomatoes and peppers require a tad bit extra work to dry, but once you remove the “goo” they’ll keep well for you, too!

grabbing black beans

And there’s nothing more rewarding than a self-sustaining garden.  The pride you derive from knowing you grew it yourself is great—but knowing you also grew the seed that produced the current harvest?  Why that’s double the satisfaction!  Maybe even double the produce. 

Which means you might want to take up canning.  It’s easier than you think and many vegetables don’t require an expensive pressure-canner.  Peppers, berries, tomatoes…  These can all be canned using a hot water bath.  Basically, boiling your “jars filled with goodies” for the recommended time is all it takes.  Next thing you know, your pantry will be stocked for the winter!  Low acid vegetables (most others) require the pressure-canner method for safe preservation.

rosemary hedge

Don’t forget those flowers and herbs!  These are easily dried, great for both consumption and décor purposes. Ever placed a satchel of dried lavender in your drawer?  Rosemary?  It’s a glorious waft of fragrance every time you dress, especially welcome in the kids’ sock drawers or how about as a welcome outside your front door? Turn your home landscaping into “edible” landscaping!

Integrating your garden with other areas of your life not only instills a connection with nature, but also a rewards one with deep pleasure.  Returning to the simple things in life can create a powerful feeling of inner joy.  Dare I say…peace?  I mean, if I can lolly-gag in my garden and avoid the market altogether—I’m in!  Don’t need to ask me twice.

How about you?   Take a moment to ponder the possibilities that await you as your garden flourishes with life.  Whether it be crafts or canning, perfumes or even homemade aromatherapy, there’s a wealth of enjoyment to be had.  All you have to do is “think outside the garden.”