We technically live in town, but are fortunate to have a yard with a view and room for a garden. Outside, I plan my springtime around getting the vegetable garden in. I’ve got it down to a routine now. I focus mostly on vegetables that can be picked every evening when I get home and easily incorporated into a meal. The reality is, after being gone from home for 10 hours each weekday, the only way the garden is practical is if I can make quick meals in the hot weather. I enjoy the garden time and gathering the produce, but realistically, it’s the end of a long day and supper is the next thing to do. I want to enjoy making the meal and still have time after for other things. It’s too warm to cook a lot in the summer, so growing foods that can be easily and quickly prepared, fresh from the garden is so rewarding. I plant mostly items that can be turned into quick salads, steamed veggies or stir-fries. I often cook up a large kettle of brown rice on the weekend to use during the week in stir-fries and salads. It freezes well in portioned containers too. A little pre-planning goes a long way.
I don’t use any chemicals on the food we grow and we compost everything we can. It’s great to be able to reach for a sun warmed tomato or a handful of blueberries, and be able to eat them on the spot, no worries, just pure enjoyment. It’s those simple things that let me experience real country living.
I try to freeze any surplus produce at the end of the year, beans, peas, tomato sauce, and peppers. It often gets us through the winter and into spring. I dry a lot of the herbs each fall and make herb vinegar for gifts and kitchen recipes, potpourris for drawers and other herb and garden-based gifts. We grow grapes, blueberries, rhubarb, black berries, raspberries and pears. I combine these with herbs to make a variety of preserves and pickles. These keep the garden alive all through the cold months.
Our garden shed was mostly made from materials we’d scavenged from other buildings being taken down. It was a matter of having a rough plan and collecting the necessary items for a while. Then putting it all together. I love it. It has a vintage feel and works perfectly for my garden needs. Inside, the benches are recycled and most of the other items are as well. Old mixing bowls and spatter ware that is too cracked or rusted for inside projects, works fine here. Recycled jars hold saved seeds, hose connections, nozzles and any number of other small items that it’s convenient to see at a glance.
Long, narrow packing crates found at the local landfill, turned sideways and stacked, make great shelves. Baskets hold hand tools, gloves and relevant items. Most of the tools have survived at least one previous generation. Recently I was given an old wooden barrel which holds tools neatly in one corner.
Fence sections removed from one area in the yard, have been moved to others, for a second lease on life. I have my great grandparent’s wooden wheelbarrow and metal watering cans. The raised beds are re-purposed old timbers. Many of the plants started as slips from other gardens. There are a lot of outdoor rooms carved out of the yard, small niches with benches and shade, inviting reading spots where it is very easy to feel at home in the country.
On the back porch, we solved the problem of off-season storage by building two cupboards, with an old-fashioned appearance, from lumber and hardware leftover from other projects. This keeps items stored neatly and has an country look and feel to them. It also gives the houseplants that come outside in the summer, a place to hang out!
I try to take the time to notice if the air changes or the wind picks up, what kind of clouds are in the sky and what the birds are doing. I try to catch every sunset and sunrise possible and close my eyes and see what new scents I can detect. It’s all part of feeling connected to me.
I hope you get to enjoy some outdoor time in the country soon, no matter where you are, and tale time to connect with your inner country!