13 Tips for Comfortable Country Living

  1. Steaming is an easy, practical, and economical way to cook vegetables. No other method preserves the flavor, color, and texture of fresh or frozen vegetables quite so well. Try it with your spring vegetable harvest. You’ll love the tastes and textures.
  2. Herbs should be harvested when their essential oils are at the highest level, usually right before flowering or bolting time (when they form their seeds.) The best time of the day to harvest them is before the hot sun wilts them but after the dew has evaporated.
  3. Unless you are fortunate in soil and site, some parts of the garden offer better growing conditions for tomatoes than others. Give tomatoes one of the good sites. The soil must be well drained with full sun.
  4. Catnip is commonly thought of as a treat for cats and frequently found stuffed in cat toys. This useful herb can also promote rest, improve digestion, calm and soothe stomach upsets, and relieve the symptoms of colds, flu, and fevers in humans.
  5. All gardeners can assume that every square inch of their garden soil contains weeds. Some of them may have been there for years, while others dropped or blew in only yesterday. The seeds that exist naturally in any soil are called the soil’s seed bank.
  6. If you have a garden, you’re going to want a compost pile. Build it up with outdoor organic material, vegetable trimmings, fruit rinds and other fresh organic scraps. Do not add meat scraps, broths, fats, or oils, as they will not break down.
  7. Get moving. Take a hike. Go for a walk. Swim at the beach. Pack a picnic. Ride your bike. Set up the tent. Watch the birds. Check out the moon. Enjoy the outdoors. It’s good for you, and it’s free.
  8. If you’re lucky enough to be forewarned of a power outage or severe storm, store as much water as possible. Fill your washing machine, sinks, bathtub, and any clean containers.
  9. When boiling water to sterilize (as for canning), keep water at a rolling boil for 5 minutes . For every 1,000 feet above sea level, boil 1 additional minute.
  10. There are greens you can grow in every season – even winter. Some garden greens, like spinach, grow quickly and last just a short time, and can be grown under cover or in a cool, sunny spot indoors. Others, such as chard, remain ready for picking all season long, especially if they are in a protected spot in the garden.
  11. Pick your strawberries when they are red and taste good, since they won’t ripen further off the plant. Leave the green caps attached until you are ready to use them; this helps retain the freshness.
  12. Although sodium is a necessary nutrient, it occurs naturally in adequate amounts in most foods (including vegetables): we don’t really need to use salt in our cooking.
  13. Gluten is a substance created when the protein in wheat flour is combined with a liquid. The amount of protein in the flour governs with the amount of gluten. You can purchase canisters of wheat gluten to add to recipes – especially whole-grain recipes – to help them rise better.

Tips adapted by Alison Knight, Lehman’s Marketing Specialist, from Country Wisdom & Know-How: Everything You Need to Know to Live Off the Land and Glenda’s Tiny Book of Big Tips.