Drinking is important in the garden. First, of course, you have to make certain that the plants have plenty of water to get them through the hot, dry summers. But it’s also nice for a gardener to sit with a chilled glass in the shade of a leafy tree and admire the results of her hard work.
So what might I make from crops in the garden that might be delicious to drink? Well, I don’t think my Brussels sprouts or compost pile are going to help here, but I do raise a few fruit species that could work well together.
Lemons and Limes
I would have bet good money that citrus trees would not thrive in foggy San Francisco. And I would have lost that money had I bet. Aside from my pokeweed “tree,” my citrus are the biggest and healthiest, lemons and limes.
There is one improved Meyer lemon, growing in a pot, and a very tall and healthy lime tree. The lime tree has seen a few harsh moments since, for some years it grew limes the size of grapefruit, most of which were pith. After I straightened out the nutrient/nitrogen balance, the juicy part of the fruit – that had been the size of a pingpong ball – grew bigger and the pith receded. Perfect to add to my chilled glass of garden beverage.
Apple, Apple, Where’s the Apple?
The apple tree is a close neighbor of the pokeweed, sinking its roots into the southwest corner of the garden. It is truly a charming tree, with lacy, ballerina blossoms in the spring and – supposedly – large red apples in late summer.
Sadly, the apples are finicky and tend to drop from the apple tree well before they are edible. My neighbor swears that the raccoons are eating them and there may be some truth in that rumor too. In any event, I got two mature, crisp and delicious apples last year. Yes, only two. The paltry number made me appreciate them more.
To make my special garden drink, I will put juice from lemons and limes (from my citrus harvest) into the blender with a few cored, cubed apples (okay – 100 percent of my apple harvest!) I’ll toss in a half dozen ice cubes and a bit of apple juice too, and blend it up.
It will be fresh and lovely, but still need some flavoring. Some years ago I planted a small peppermint start someone gave me. It was in a sunny spot in the backyard, and that mint couldn’t have been happier. Now I have mint in every one of my garden beds, growing with my perennials and blending in with my poppies. So into the blender a few mint leaves go, together with whatever strawberries are ripe.
When everything is mixed up into a garden, fruit-only smoothie, I’ll add another sprig of mint from my vast collection to the lip of a chilled glass. I’ll pour in the frosty drink and sit in my hammock and indulge. Does anyone have a few of those plastic monkeys I can borrow?