The Potable Garden
Client: SF International Wine and Spirits Competitions
Project: Web Content
Project Overview: create humorous posts that feature competition winners in selected categories with education, instructional, or AVA introductions.
Garden Gluttony, an embarrassment of riches no more
Spring has many of us looking at taking another swing at the garden this year. Last year’s mistakes resulted in hairy carrots, too many zucchini, and daily google searches that basically provided the same answer: bugs did it, stop watering so much, you kinda don’t suck at this but you know nothing. Voles will eat it all.
For every failure, there is success in learning something new. Nitrogen-rich soil makes carrots hairy. Young amaranth will kill squash beetles! Cabbage plants become invasively large. Watering at night draws in pests.
Then there’s the fact that gardens produce a lot of food. Why yes, you can have too much kale and, no, you don’t need three varieties. The question most gardeners ask themselves is, “What am I going to do with all of this food?”
Maybe it is time to enjoy the garden a little more by making it drinkable. Not only does a cocktail garden sound romantic, but it is also more pragmatic than say a salsa garden. Because there’s only so much salsa a person can eat and no one has ever stood in the middle of their garden and implored, “how am I going to drink all of this?”
Here are seeds to start for the perfectly drinkable garden:
Lovage for Bloody Mary “?!?”
Lovage tastes like celery had a moment and got serious about life. Soak a quarter cup of just-picked, washed rough-chopped lovage leaves in 750 ml of Absolut Original Vodka for a celery-flavored, herbaceous Bloody Mary. Watch people take a sip and then look around wild with surprise and curiosity.
Plant lovage in a sunny, well-drained area on the edge of your garden. With the right amount of water (more than sage and less than tomatoes) and slightly acidic soil, it will come back year after year and grow to about 4’.
Sage for Salty Dogs
Sage can save so many things from ruin. From gamey lamb to under-seasoned soups, sage is born to do the heavy flavor lifting. Place a few fresh leaves in two TBSP of course sea salt and cover for a week. Use the salt for an unforgettable salty dog cocktail rim.
Hardy and drought resistant, sage wants warm, well-drained soil and plenty of space to keep on trucking. Avoid watering its leaves, let it get a lot of air, and let it spread.
Nasturtiums for Absolut Perfect Martinis
Every chef has a panty-dropper – a go-to dish that makes undergarments unnecessary. Post a photo of Nasturtiums in a salad on Instagram, for instance, and knees go weak around the world.
Pickle the nasturtium seeds in a hot salt and sugar brine and refrigerate them for three weeks. Serve them in the bottle of vodka martinis. Be prepared for love.
Nasturtiums like even keel. They can handle the sun with enough good, well-watered soil where they can cascade down the side of a pot or over a raised bed. Let the flowers mature and the seeds form. Pick them while they are still green.
Armenian Cucumbers for True Love
Let’s talk cucumbers and vodka. The two vibe on each other like bartenders and the just divorced. While the chemistry is there, it isn’t always worth the time to work with watery, seedy varieties found at the grocery store. The green-skinned cucumbers found in the supermarket are there because their skins don’t bruise – not (sadly) because they are the ideal cultivar for vodka. Grow more sensitive skinned cucumbers for more floral tasting cucumbers that don’t need to be peeled or deseeded. Some cucumbers are just a better fit than others.
If you have a trellis, Armenian cucumbers will grow as long and straight as a forearm. Perfect right out of the garden, they can be thrown into the food processor or juicer to create a mash ready to be soaked in vodka. The Armenian Cucumber is sturdier and less watery than a supermarket cucumber. Thinly sliced, the Armenian Cucumber makes for a translucent white garnish on the side of a glass.