5 Beverages To Pair With This Summer's Gardening
Quench your thirst after a long day in the yard.
My mom taught me everything I know about gardening. Things like what grows best in our climate, companion planting, and the ever-inventive job of creating makeshift fences so the dog doesn’t trample those newly planted seeds. One thing Mom left out was the fact that drinking while gardening is a near-perfect combination. The accompaniment of a refreshing beverage while plunging your hands into the earth is a feeling that everyone should know.
Tilling The Earth & Irish Cream
When preparing your soil for planting, you want to work the earth to ensure a hospitable growing environment for your new seedlings. This can be done with either a hand till or a rototiller. I live in Southern Alberta, where hard-packed snow covers my beds for a good four months out of the year. This creates a fairly compressed patch of earth after the spring melt.
Mom never believed in rototillers, “A rototiller is for the lazy man,” she’d say, “a gardener needs to get a feel for the earth they are working with.”
I have worked up my soil by hand ever since. Sometimes, when I’m feeling sassy, I pour myself a steaming mug of coffee and Baileys before heading out to my morning work. There’s still a chill to the air in those early hours, and the drink of my ancestors warms me while I revel in my efforts.
Seeding & White Wine
By mid-day, I have begun the tedious job of seeding. Here we choose the layout of our beds. Much like pairing wine with cheese and gardening with booze, there is a method to this madness. Many plants grow better when positioned near one another to help with pest reduction, growth and pollination. I always sow my carrots near the tomatoes and picture a cartoon drawing of these veggies holding hands with little hearts floating above their heads. The picture is vivid from my years of reading “Carrots Love Tomatoes,” one of the many gardening books Mom made me memorize as an extracurricular activity when I was young.
The glass of sweating pinot sits on the patio table to the left of me, and I refer to it often. Its lemon dryness helps me remember the lessons of my youth.
Digging Beds & Gin
Digging beds is simple enough; all you need is a sharp spade and some imagination. Also, landscaping fabric and border materials are helpful but not necessary in a pinch.
Mom always used an unspooled hose when building a shapely garden patch. She would sketch out the design with the hose, and then using that as an outline, she’d dig around it. Genius, I know. What I also know is that she usually had a gin and tonic not far from reach while she worked. Mom didn’t drink gin often, but something about excavating chunks of sod and soil out of the earth brings on a fierce thirst for the dry, effervescent taste of gin.
Staking & Cider
Hard cider is tough to beat when it comes to staking the garden. This is the process of marking your vegetable rows with string and stakes. Many people use popsicle sticks for the job, but if you’re like me with a dog who steals stakes out of the ground because she thinks they are chew toys, something more substantial, like a metal rod, must be used. It’s a gruelling task to pound that rod into the ground, but your workload will ease with the addition of a nice strong cider.
Turning Compost & Ale
I’ve had a compost heap for as long as I can remember. When I was young and running barefoot over gravel roads, the pebbles seemingly not even touching my calloused feet, Mom would get me to take the compost to the pile three times a day. We had a little bowl that sat on the counter, beside the sink that held apple cores, eggshells, the rotting ends of lettuce, and all other organic matter. Composting is second nature to me.
The downfall is that, without a store-bought composter, you must turn the stuff by hand. Every few days, I employ the old pitchfork that was passed down to me from my mother and mix the soon-to-be-dirt. We do this to assure that no deadly gasses get trapped in the stuff and help speed up the process of compostery.
I pour myself a tall mug of dark ale — preferably of the local business variety. The brew reminds me that I am tough and willing to sweat for the fruits of my labour. I take a long slug and then pour a bit onto the stinking compost heap for added flavour.
Harvesting & Tequila
I have often heard the buzz one gets from drinking tequila to be likened to a near high. This reminds me of the incredible feeling of plucking a tomato off the vine and knowing only mere months ago it was a seed that stuck to the tip of my finger. As I rustle the plants around to capture my yield, the earthy-tart smell of the leaves makes my head float. The sweet and sour bite of a freshly picked tomato goes perfectly with a cool shot of Don Julio.
The idea of growing something from seed is intoxicating. So is drinking while gardening. Drink your tequila, harvest your yield, and just make sure you don’t fall over into any of your precious plant-babies.