06/27/2012 08:42 am ET Updated Aug 27, 2012

16 Ways to Enjoy Your Summer Garden

I enjoy gardening, but I love enjoying my garden. And the trick to summer gardening is to be able to spend more time enjoying it and less time sweating over it. That's why I wrote my new ebook: Maria Rodale's Organic Gardening Secrets: Summer. I want to make your summer gardening so easy that you actually have time to enjoy it. All too often, Labor Day arrives and we haven't gone swimming, we haven't had a picnic, we haven't worn white shoes, and we've spent too much time laboring over our gardens to get some fruit and not enough time actually enjoying the fruits of our labor. Before that happens to you again, pick up my ebook (it's only $3!) to help you get control of your summer garden. Meanwhile, here are 16 ways you can enjoy your garden this summer:

1. Go out after dinner and lie down on your beautiful chemical-free green grass and breathe in the scents of your garden. Listen to the crickets coming awake as the sky darkens. It's better than a martini.

2. Catch fireflies in a jar to make a fairy-tale lantern. Release them at the end of the evening.

3. After working in the garden, get a big bucket and fill it with either warm or cold water and some herbal bubble bath. Soak your feet (or hands) in it at the end of the day.

4. Use found objects to decorate your garden and home. Found rocks, wood, and old equipment, if used creatively, can really create an unusual and cool look.

5. When dining outdoors, use nice clean tea towels to protect food from flies and other flying pests.

6. Make sun tea with fresh mint or herbal tea bags. Refrigerate for a refreshing, inexpensive, and delicious summer drink.

7. Wherever you go on vacation, visit the gardens.

8. Have a family reunion, and ask everyone to bring their favorite "heirloom" family recipes, gardening secrets, or even seeds.

9. Try going outside with bare feet and doing a walking meditation. Walk slowly and feel your feet touch the earth with every particle of the soles of your feet. Smile slightly as you are doing it. Feel the planet humming beneath you and your rootedness to it.

10. Play "freestyle" badminton without a net.

11. Have a bocce tournament on the lawn.

12. Take a walk in your local woods. Carry along a little tree identification book, and try to identify your native tree species.

13. If you can't grow enough vegetables and fruits--or simply don't want to--look for a local CSA to join. CSA stands for community-sponsored agriculture, which usually stands for buying directly from a local organic farmer on a subscription basis. So you pay a weekly amount and they deliver whatever is ripe and ready to your door. It's a fabulous way to try new vegetables, fruits, and herbs and to support your local farmers.

14. Take a "summer sick day" from work when you are just plain sick of missing out on summer. Hang out in your yard all day. If your yard is no fun to hang out in, then make it fun.

15. Have someone look in on your garden while you are on vacation. Or invite your neighbors to harvest from it while you are away. There's no sense in letting things go to waste.

16. Have a garden party!

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