It’s time for a new series on the blog! I’m calling it Work in Progress, where I share things I’m learning in the messy middle, before I’ve figured out what the hell I’m actually doing.
So much of blogging has become shiny before-and-afters, and it’s so important to show all the in-betweens, when we try things and they don’t work. Or even if they do work, but we’re not sure if we’re doing it right at all.
That’s the idea behind Work in Progress—showing the human side to the before and after. And first up is my incredibly unruly herb garden.
All of this started with my fourth 101 in 1001 list. I wanted to create an indoor herb garden to take my mixology hobby to the next level. I started with three basic herbs that I can use for a plethora of cocktails: basil, mint, and rosemary.
As you can see above, there are quite a few problems with my herb garden. The basil is dead and crispy, the mint is going a bit crazy with teeny-tiny leaves, and the pots have this white residue all over them.
This is my first herb garden, and while I wouldn’t say I’m actively bad with plants, I just haven’t really tried before, so I’m not exactly good with them either. So join me in real time as I figure out how the hell to take care of my herbs.
I’m going to tackle one thing at a time, for several reasons. One, that’s all my ADHD brain can really take at a time. And two, when there are problems, I want to try one thing at a time to see which change actually caused an improvement. Scientific method and all that.
So for today, I’m going to tackle my super leggy mint.
When I first got the mint, there were a few stems with some big leaves on them. I started pruning it to use the leaves in cocktails, either by pinching or cutting with kitchen shears (when I tried pinching and it didn’t work). Then, after basically ignoring it for several months…. it got overgrown with incredibly leggy stems with teeny-tiny leaves on them.
I did some research, and it sounds like there are several causes for this: lack of light, lack of pruning, not enough room for the roots, and too much fertilizer.
Let’s get two of those out of the way: the pot normally sits on my kitchen windowsill with lots of light, and I don’t think I ever fertilized it. So that leaves us with lack of pruning and not enough room for the roots.
Since I’m using the scientific method for this, I want to try one at a time and see how each one goes. First up: pruning.
First, I got rid of the clearly dead leaves and stems. Then it was time to go for the living stuff.
According to several articles I found, I want to prune the stems just above the node where two leaves are growing. While I probably cut more than is recommended, I made sure there were still plenty of leaves left. Plus, the thing was just out of control.
Stay tuned to see how well pruning alone helped! If that’s not enough to get this plant back under control, I’ll find a bigger pot and see if the roots are too cramped.
In the meantime, the trimmed mint leaves have been wrapped in a damp paper towel and stored in the fridge. Looks like Sean and I will be sipping some Hugo cocktails tonight and tomorrow! (Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to post a recipe for those soon.)
And please, chime in in the comments with any advice you have on my herb garden! If you know why my basil is so sad or what the heck the white stuff on my terracotta pots is, please let me know. My plants will thank you. 🙏🏻