It’s not too late to start your herb garden, either! Small plants don’t need long to really take off. So on your next Target run, choose a few pots to suit your space, some potting soil (maybe a stylish watering can, while you’re there) and you can set up a great-looking patio or deck garden – or even a little window sill planter box! My pots really filled out in a matter of about 10 days.
A few tips for building your herb container garden:
1. Pick herbs you love, and don’t over-crowd them. Small pots can only handle one plant. These large pots can accommodate two. I planted the herbs we use most often: basil, cilantro, thyme, rosemary, and mint. (And mint really grows, so give it lots of space to spread out!) You should also check the sun/shade requirements and make sure that the plants you choose will fit well in your space.
2. Use potting soil designed for container gardens. Your plants will need nutrients, so it’s worth it to spend a little on soil, rather than digging it up from the yard.
3. Pretty is good. Build something you love to look at! You’ll be seeing it often, after all, and a gorgeous mini-garden doubles as great outdoor decor.
4. Water daily. This should be a no-brainer, but if gardening is a new endeavor for you, then don’t forget to care for your plants. Each plant will come with instructions of how much water and shade it needs. Remove any damaged leaves. And it may feel counter-intuitive, but regular pruning can help your plant grow!
5. Enjoy them! Try some recipes for fresh herbs, whether it’s cooking, or my favorite: summer cocktail creations. I’ll show you one way to incorporate fresh herbs into your summer drinks below!
One of the ways to get the flavor of fresh herbs into your drinks is to use an infusion process. For me, that’s infused simple syrups. They take just minutes to make, and they store for about a month in the refrigerator. I’ve been experimenting with all of my herbs, and while my basil is the clear winner to my palate, that doesn’t mean it’s the only option out there. Try your favorites for yourself!
To make a simple syrup, add 1 cup of water, 1 cup of sugar, and 1 loosely-packed cup of fresh herbs to a small saucepan. Heat it up over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the sugar dissolves. Pour the syrup into a jar, leaves and all, and let it steep at least until it’s cool, or up to 24 hours. Then, remove and discard the leaves. Simple syrup is a staple ingredient for many cocktails, and flavoring it with herbs is an awesome way to flavor up your drink!
As I mentioned, I am a basil fan, myself. The thyme was a little too savory for my style of mixology (though, try it! I can see it being lovely in a rum drink) and when I used mint, it just reminded me of peppermint tea. But there are so many possible combinations, so get creative!
Here’s a great summer recipe for Strawberry-Basil Spiked Lemonade, which is a vodka-based cocktail. You will need to puree a few fresh strawberries in your food processor or blender to create this drink, but it’s worth the couple minutes to enjoy the fresh strawberry flavor.
- 2 oz. citrus vodka
- 1 oz. strawberry puree
- 1 oz. basil simple syrup
- 1 oz. lemon juice
- 2-3 oz. club soda
- Fill a highball glass or mason jar with ice, and shake together vodka, strawberry, syrup, and lemon juice over ice.
- Strain into your glass, and top with club soda until the glass is full (about 2-3 oz).
- Garnish with lemon or lime wedges, strawberry slices, and a basil leaf.
- Note: the sweetness of this drink will vary depending on the ripeness of your berries. If your berries are early in the season and a little bit tart, you may wish to add a little more syrup, and if they're fully ripe, then you may wish to decrease the syrup.
An herb garden is both beautiful and functional, and you can get it started anytime (even late in the season!) and there are so many ways to fit it to your space.
My herb garden was set up with the following:
Basil, Cilantro, Rosemary, Thyme, and Mint
Find your style @TargetStyle.