Saturday, March 7, 2009

The Perfected Mint Mojito

Grow your own Mojito Mint plant on the back patio and mix this masterpiece of a beverage at your next party. An absolute MUST for this summer's weekend BBQ get-togethers. Everyone will rave about them!

Nothing is better than using your own garden veggies and herbs to whip something up in the kitchen! The Mojito Mint plant is extremely easy to care for. Simply plant it in a container of choice and set it on your back patio or deck. Make sure that the container has a drainage hole. Mint likes full sun and lots of water. If you put your mint in the shade, it will grow floppy and the flavor will not be as strong as when you grow it in the sun. Mint is hardy to zone 5 and likes almost any garden soil. It is truly a "no worries" plant!

Mojito Mint Plant available at Herb Friend's Shoppe on

Word of warning: Don't put more than one kind of mint in a pot. If you mix your different kinds of mints up in the same pot, either one mint will smother the rest or they will get so mixed up, it will be difficult to tell them apart.

Now for the perfect Mojito recipe....

The Miami Mojito (Mojito with Simple Syrup)
Somewhere between guarapo and granulated sugar, lies simple syrup. Simple syrup is essentially “sugar water” made by dissolving sugar in boiling water. Some people refer to it as mojito simple syrup, but simple syrup has many uses in cocktail making. Simple syrup also makes the mojito with the smoothest texture, as the sugar particles have already been dissolved before assembling the mojito.

1 lime, juiced (about 2 ounces)
5-6 fresh from the garden mohito mint leaves
crushed ice
2 ounces white/light rum (try Havana Club)
1 ounce simple syrup*
2 drops Angostura bitters, optional (if you would like to cut the sweetness a bit)
3 ounces Club Soda

* Simple Sugar Syrup:
1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Bring water and sugar to a low boil and cook for 2-3 minutes until sugar dissolves. Water will appear slightly cloudy, but will become clear as it cools. Cool to room temperature. Store in the refrigerator in a squeeze bottle or airtight container. If properly sealed, the syrup will keep up to 2 weeks. One batch of this syrup will make about 12 mojitos.

Muddle lime juice with the mint in the bottom of a long mojito glass (also called a "collins" glass) . Add light rum, simple syrup, and bitters. Fill the glass to the top with ice. Top with club soda. Cover the glass with a shaker tin or transfer the mixture to a shaker and shake for 5-6 seconds. Garnish with lime wedge and a garden fresh mint sprig!

Friday, March 6, 2009

Which Came First, the Caterpillar or the Butterfly?

Butterfly gardening can be extremely rewarding. Watching these beauties flutter about from flower to flower, breeze to breeze... There are two types of plants that butterflies need in order to survive, nectar plants and host plants. If you have both in your garden, you will be able to witness the entire life cycle of the fabulous flittering Lepidoptera.

Nectar Plants
Nectar plants are what most people think of when designing a butterfly garden. They provide the food needed for sustenance. Some common nectar plants are:

Cosmos available at Seven Acre Woods on

Some other great nectar plants for your butterfly garden include Aster, Blazing Stars, Common Milkweed, Coreopsis, Lantana, Marigold, Shasta Daisys, Sunflowers, and Zinnia.

Host Plants
Less common but as equally important are host plants. Butterflies use these for reproduction, meaning depositing eggs and feeding larvae (caterpillars). Some familiar host plants are:

Hollyhocks available at A Better Place on

Dill available at Homegrown Healthy on

Other common host plants for your butterfly garden include the Common Foxglove, Nasturtium, Milkweed, False Nettle, Rue, Silver Brocade, Snapdragon, Sunflower, Violet, Fennel, Spicebush, Passion Flower, Pipevine, Pawpaw and Sweet Bay Magnolias.

Both Nectar & Host Plants
If you don't have much space for a butterfly garden, it makes sense to use dual-purpose plants. Here are a few that serve as both nectar and host plants for your fluttering beauties:

Swamp Verbena, or Simpler's Joy, available at Infinite Gardens on

Purple Coneflower available at A Better Place on

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Time to Try Something New in the Garden?

Why not go out on the limb this year and try something new in the garden?

Grow your very own Organic Loofah (luffa) Sponge, available at Smokymist Gardens on You can eat them, but they come in more handy in the shower! Loofah sponges are extremely easy to harvest and prepare for use. Just watch them grow during the summer, pick when the loofah is ready, loosen and peel the skin back, rinse and sun dry. Voila!! A homegrown back scrubber!!!

Photo by Jerry Crimson Mann on WikiCommons.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Tomato Season is Just Around the Corner

Veggie Gardening :: It is almost that time of year again!
I've already started my lettuce and bean seeds for this year's garden. Next on the list is tomatoes!!
Here are some fabulous varieties available at Mistiaggie's Etsy shop:
This is a late season Russian tomato that is beautifully colored in dark purples and a very unique shape. An excellent indeterminate heirloom variety that slices up well on a plate with a dash of salt or on an English muffin for breakfast.

Schimmeig Striped Hollow Heirloom Tomato
A red tomato with orange stripes and the shape of a pepper! You can easily cut the top off and pull out the seeds...simple preparation! It is a very vigorous plant and a heavy bearer.

Copia Heirloom Tomato
Copia is named after the American Center for Wine, Food and the Arts, and is a beautiful bi-color tomato. This is a large beefsteak that I think you will fall in love with!

Speckled Roman Heirloom Tomato
This is a very unique tomato that is perfect for making into sauces. It was originally developed by crossing Antique Roman and Banana Legs to produce this colorful, striped tomato. A heavy bearer and does not have a lot of seeds.