Whether you are a gardener with a preference for cocktails or a cocktail aficionado who is tired of constantly having to buy herbs, having a ‘cocktail garden’ makes sense.
Easy to grow and always available for harvest, herbs are the magic ingredient that can take your Cocktails from ordinary to extraordinary.
And it doesn’t matter whether you have a garden bed or simply a sunny kitchen window; herbs don’t take up a lot of space, yet they can provide a bounty of flavours that gives you a taste of garden-to-glass mixology.
Most herbs are really simple to grow, and as long as you remember four simple rules, they should provide you with a regular crop that will amaze your friends and impress your visitors. And what are those four things? Well, they need sunlight, regular pruning, good soil and daily watering.
Herb plants need 6-8 hours of bright direct sun each day. If your herb patch isn’t sunny enough, place the plants in a sunny kitchen window. Just because they’re somewhere bright doesn’t mean they’re being touched by the actual sun, and that’s what they need.
It is super important to water every day. The soil should never dry out completely; this stresses the plants out and compromises the health of the plant. When planting herbs in containers, use a good-quality potting mix and add water crystals to help the plants survive the summer heat.
Don’t pick off the leaves—prune them instead. Snip off the main branch above the leaf stock to stimulate bushy versus stringy growth. Same with blossoms: Clip them off immediately. Even though they’re pretty, you want to have a leafier plant, AKA more leaves with which to make more drinks!
Feed your babies
Most prefer good soil but don’t be tempted to add too much compost or manure, as you’ll get rapid growth at the expense of flavour. (A good rule of thumb is to add one bag of compost or manure for every square metre.) Mulch the soil around the herbs, taking care not to build the mulch up against their stems. Note: Always keep in mind that some Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary and sage, prefer poorer, lime-rich soils.
Some other things to consider
Buy your plants at an established nursery or from your favourite booth at the farmers market for better selection and better quality plants.
Buy good dirt
To help your herbs thrive, high-quality, nutrient-dense soil is worth the extra money. Look for soil that contains composted material like chicken manure or even bat guano.
If you are growing your herbs in a container, it is important to replant herbs in a larger container than the one you bought them in. This will help promote growth with less watering.
Get containers that have holes at the bottom so extra water drains out. And make sure not to water *too* much. Touch the soil to see if it’s moist—if it is, then skip the watering until it feels a little dryer.
Who says your cocktail garden shouldn’t look as good as it is useful? To add to the visual appeal, plant short and tall herbs together while still providing ample amount of airflow through them.
Keep everything under control
While most herbs are happy with a bit of pruning, Mint is another story. Mint, if left to its own devices, has a tendency to take over … well … everything. To ensure that your mint remains under control, it’s advisable to plant it in its own container, even when you are planting it in a garden. This will ensure that the roots are restrained and you don’t end up with a purely mint-based garden.