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Southern Style by Rebecca Masters
Enjoying natures bounty
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    As far back into my childhood as I can remember, my father always had a vegetable garden. Tomatoes, squash, other vegetables and fruits were always plentiful and shared with neighbors and friends.  My mother kept tomatoes in the kitchen and tomato sandwiches were a usual meal or snack.  
    As I have come to appreciate the hard work that went into growing tomatoes, I have also come to appreciate their beauty.  This time of year, most of us have fresh fruits and vegetables passing through our kitchens. Since tomatoes should be kept at room temperature, placing them in a shallow bowl showcases their beauty.  Instead of lining them up on the counter, we can use them as seasonal décor.  They can be placed in containers that match your kitchen accessories and use as a centerpiece on a table or island. Under ripe tomatoes can be put in a brown paper bag for several days to ripen.
    Jars of canned vegetables can be used the same way. Grouping a few canned vegetables by color to display them can be quite striking. Consider framing a handwritten family recipe that uses fresh vegetables. Place it near the display in a frame that matches your accessories.
    Fresh herbs can be used just as you would use cut flowers. When entertaining or just for enjoyment, cut stems as long as possible and place in vases for another seasonal touch.
    Hosta leaves from the perennial flower border can also be cut and used in vases. Choose a vase that is substantial in scale to match the size of the hosta leaves and will be stable with water.  Fern fronds of holly ferns and those that do not shed easily can be used in the same way. Cut plenty for your vase to make a design statement.
    As you are cutting things from your yard or garden this summer, look around and see if you need some bursts of color in your garden. Garden centers still have a few annuals left. These can be put in pots to match your home and strategically placed around the garden as accents.  Check to see if you have annuals already planted that are looking leggy and have stopped blooming well.  If so, cut them back to six or eight inches and fertilize with a liquid fertilizer and water regularly.  This should rejuvenate the annuals for another round of blooms.
    There are so many beautiful things growing in our fields and gardens.  Look around and see what you can showcase in your home. What is more glorious than using nature’s bounty as art and sculpture? Enjoy the blessings of our fields and gardens and share what you have with others. It’s our way of life here in Bulloch County. It’s a southern thing!
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