Dreams do come true. For years and years I dreamed of having a picturesque Kitchen Garden and Potting Shed—the dreamy, romantic kind traditionally known as a potager in France or a kailyard in Scotland. When Danny and I moved to retire in the country, I was sure my dream was about to become reality. In my dream, I planted heirloom seeds, harvested vegetables and herbs from my garden and used them for preparing and preserving food for my family. I decorated my Potting Shed in a nostalgic, rustic style and invited my grandchildren to come for “tea.” (I didn’t even have grandchildren yet, but I was dreaming.)
This is the image of a dream coming true. After many years of saving pictures from magazines and jotting down notes, my dream of having a charming Potting Shed was becoming a reality, thanks to God who has given us more than we need or deserve, and thanks to my dear husband who always lovingly and cheerfully grants my wishes. Many people have asked us if we have design plans for the building. We don't. It was all in Danny's head and hands. So here are some pictures of how it was built. You can see more photos inside and out of the finished Potting Shed here.
In southwestern Pennsylvania, our winters can range anywhere from mild to blizzard conditions, dipping into the 'teens at times. Keeping chickens during the winter months is really not any more difficult than the rest of the year. You just need to be attentive, observant, committed, and provide what they need--the same as the rest of the year, right? Except that, the needs are a little different in the winter.
The winter months can sometimes seem to drag on forever, especially when the temps stay below freezing and the snow is flying. What really makes winter furn for me is planning my Kitchen Garden.
Fall PrepIn the fall I pull out the spent plants, loosen the soil, and rake in some organic materials. I use straw and manure that was previously cleaned out of the hen house, crushed egg shells, dead leaves and wood ash from our fireplace. I rake that into the beds and let the garden rest for the winter. These organics replenish the depleted nutrients. When the ground begins to thaw, I occasionally turn the composting soil. You can read more about how we originally built and composted our garden beds.
Peppers are easy to grow and plentiful at the end of summer. In my garden, I planted sweet bell peppers, bull horn peppers, and jalapeno peppers. There are plenty of recipes for using peppers. One of my favorites is Cheese-Stuffed Jalapeno Poppers.
I still have lots of tomatoes in my Kitchen Garden. I've canned them diced, in sauces and salsas, we've had slices in salads and soups and on sandwiches, and we've still got tomatoes coming. So for a change of pace, today I made a tomato pie.
It started out as a summer project, but it was the winter that surprised and gripped me! Mason jar candleholders and shiny beads to hang in our beloved Maple tree! Summer evenings bring grilling outdoors and sitting around the fire ring. How lovely it is to linger under the canopy of maple leaves and see the candles glowing in the jars and the strings of beads dangling in the breeze.
A home can look so bare and empty after the Christmas decorations are taken down and packed away. Usually I automatically leap to the typical, expected Valentine's decorations.This year I felt like I needed a change, but what? Rather than go out and buy new decorations, I decided to rummage around the house and see what I have that I could use to decorate the fireplace mantel for the remainder of the winter.
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