def. A wannabe gardener who kills plants.
How hard can this be?
In case you missed it, last month I decided I was going to plant a cocktail garden.
However, thanks to something called the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map apparently I have to wait to plant my garden until next spring. Which is slightly annoying because I’m pretty sure plants can’t read maps.
The internet claims that civilization began around the time that humans first began cultivating plants, and that herbs have been farmed for at least the last 15,000 years or so. And since they didn’t have the internet, Martha Stewart, or books back then, it seemed like a reasonable assumption that being able to grow plants is built into our DNA somewhere.
I tried. It died.
To get in some practice before spring I decided to try growing a few herbs in containers - namely, mint and basil.
Mint is well known for spreading out and taking over a garden, plus it can thrive in shade or sun. And my friend Cassie told me that growing basil takes no skill whatsoever, since it’s almost impossible to kill unless you’re trying to murder it.
The next day I stopped by a local nursery and picked up 3 spearmint plants (because mojitos) and a basil plant, along with some potting soil and colorful pots (with air holes because apparently plants need to breathe, too). After whipping up a blackberry mojito with the last of the mint from the plant I bought the week before that died because I forgot to transfer it into a container, I headed out to the back porch to get started.
I tore open the bag of potting soil and started filling the pots with a pointy scooper. I reached in for the 4th or 5th scoop and was surprised to see a toad jump straight up in the air.
And by ‘surprised’ I mean I screamed "Holy shit how the FUCK did that get in there?!?!" as I flung the metal scooper across the porch and ran inside the house. I sent two of the Dashes outside to check and see if I had accidentally murdered the toad in case we needed to bury it next to Lucy the lizard that had accidentally been murdered a few weeks ago during an impromptu game of volleyball.
Fortunately Toby the toad was uninjured, and promptly hopped off to find a less hostile environment in which to setup camp. After convincing Dash Three (unsuccessfully) that I wasn’t trying to murder Toby, I finished planting the herbs and put everything away.
In the morning I went outside to check on the tremendous growth that I was sure each plant had achieved overnight because I obviously have no concept of how long it takes plants to grow. I was greeted with 2 spearmint plants contemplating their escape and 1 that had committed suicide.
The basil plant, on the other hand, had turned into a drama queen overnight. Its stems and leaves were hanging flaccidly over the sides of the pot as if too hungover from last night’s house party to stumble home.
Silence of the Plants.
I sat down with the 2 remaining spearmint plants and tried to start up a conversation but they weren’t having it. I can’t tell if they blame me for killing their friend or if they feel I’m torturing them for making them stay so I moved them to a new spot far away from the basil plant so they didn’t get any other crazy ideas.
Basil nursed his hangover for the rest of the day while I searched for ways to cure him. I found that Viagra has another use in that it also perks up plants, but you need a prescription for that and my doctor wasn’t going to write one without seeing him first.
Since drugs weren’t an option I opted to give basil some full sun for the day and be sure he had enough water (but not too much). He didn’t even open his eyes to say thank you.
The next morning when I went to check on him, however, he was about 75% erect after spending all night in the moonlight. Which is the opposite of what he should be doing and I realized that having a drama queen and a rebel is karma for my freshman year in college.
This pattern continued for a few more days until I was certain that basil was stealing Viagra from one of the neighbors. But he must have gotten caught because after that he never perked up again and now I have to tell Cassie that she is wrong about basil.
As for the other 2 spearmint plants we are currently in a standoff. Which is why instead of a mojito this month I decided on the Rosemary Maple Bourbon Smash using rosemary from the farmers market grown by farmers who actually know what they’re doing.
Teamwork makes the dream work.
I’d love it if you’d make a cocktail for yourself, too, and join me in the Unconventional Creative Facebook Group for happy hour.
And while you’re at it, make a second drink for a friend and invite them along. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
ROSEMARY MAPLE BOURBON SMASH
1½ oz. bourbon
¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
2-3 slices of lemon
⅓ oz. maple syrup (or more, to taste)
1 small sprig fresh rosemary
Garnish: Rosemary sprig and a lemon slice
Smack the rosemary between the palm of your hands and place in a cocktail shaker.
Muddle bourbon, rosemary, maple syrup, lemon juice, and lemon slices in the shaker to release flavors.
Fill shaker with ice and shake vigorously until thoroughly chilled, about 30 seconds.
Strain into a glass with a large ice cube. Garnish with rosemary sprig and lemon slice.
Invite friends over and make more.