How to Create Your Own Cocktail Herb Garden

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How to Create Your Own Cocktail Herb Garden

Shake things up this season and add a new layer of flavor to your favorite cocktails by growing your own cocktail herb garden.

By: Tiff Christie|March 7, 2022

Whether you’re a gardener with a preference for cocktails or a cocktail lover who’s tired of constantly having to buy herbs, having a “cocktail garden” makes sense.

Easy to grow and always available to harvest, herbs are the magic ingredient that can take your cocktails from ordinary to extraordinary.

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And it doesn’t matter if you have a garden bed or just a sunny kitchen window, herbs don’t take up much space, but can provide an abundance of flavors that give 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 steady crop that will amaze your friends and impress your visitors. And what are those four things, well, they need sun, regular pruning, good soil, and daily watering.

Provide sunlight

Herbaceous plants need 6-8 hours of direct, bright sunlight each day. If your herb patch doesn’t get enough sun, place the plants in a sunny kitchen window. Just because they’re in a bright place doesn’t mean they get hit by the sun, and that’s what they need

Water regularly

It is super important to water every day. The soil should never dry out completely; this stresses the plants and compromises the health of the plant. When planting herbs in containers, use a good quality potting soil and add water crystals to help the plants survive the summer heat.

Cut

Don’t cut the leaves, prune them instead. Cut the main branch above the leaf stock to stimulate bushy growth versus stringy growth. Ditto for the flowers: cut them immediately. Even though they look pretty, you want to have a leafier plant, i.e. more leaves, to make more drinks with!

Feed your babies

Most prefer good soil, but don’t be tempted to add too much compost or manure or you’ll get rapid growth at the expense of flavor. (A good rule of thumb is to add a bag of compost or manure for every square yard.) Mulch the soil around the grasses, taking care not to build up the mulch against their stems.
Always keep in mind that some Mediterranean herbs, such as rosemary and sage, prefer poorer, lime-rich soils.

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A few other things to consider

Source wisely

Buy your plants from an established nursery or from your favorite stand at the farmers market for better selection and higher quality plants.

Buy good soil

To help your herbs thrive, high-quality, nutrient-rich soil is worth the extra money. Look for soil that contains composted material like chicken manure or even bat guano.

Replant

If you are growing your herbs in a container, it is important to replant the herbs in a larger container than the one you purchased them in. This will help promote growth with less watering.

Drainage

Get containers that have holes in the bottom for extra water to drain away. And make sure you don’t water *too* much. Touch the ground to see if it is wet. If so, skip watering until it dries out a bit.

Aesthetic

Who says your cocktail garden shouldn’t be as beautiful as it is useful? To add visual appeal, plant short and tall grasses together while ensuring good air circulation through them.

Keep everything under control

While most herbs are fine with a little pruning, mint is a different story. Mint, if left to its own devices, tends to take over…well…everything. To ensure your mint stays under control, it’s a good idea to plant it in its own container, even if you’re planting it in a garden. This will ensure that the roots are held in and you don’t end up with a pure mint garden.

Terri S. Tomasini