The one bright spot in my otherwise brown wasteland of a yard is my little duo of earth boxes.
Earth boxes, you ask?
Yes, earth boxes. You can buy them ready-made, though I made mine with a big storage tub, a plastic colander, some duct tape, and a drimmel tool. Basically, it's a big ol' box of dirt. But the secret is that about a third of the way from the bottom there's a divider. Below that divider, instead of dirt, there's a reservoir for water. A small bit of the dirt (in my case, contained within the colander) dips down into the reservoir and wicks the water up to the plant roots.
The advantage to the earth box is that the water is deep, so it doesn't evaporate in the hot Texas sun. The plants take just exactly what they need (no more, no less). And when you refill the reservoir (through a 2 inch pipe with an "L" in the bottom), it waters the plants for at least a week ... so you can go away for a weekend without all your plants dying in the heartbeat you look away from them.
|Spearmint and oregano going crazy in my homemade earth box. Note the dead stuff on the ground nearby.|
I use my earth boxes for herbs. I have one chock full of beautiful basil (just made a simple pasta with vegies and basil last night!). The other, this year, has oregano and spearmint, both of which are going nuts.
That abundance of spearmint--which I'm using in iced tea and lemonade and half-and-halfs every day--inspired this yummy grown-ups only, completely refreshing summer treat. I bring you ...
1/2 c. fresh lime juice (strained)
1 1/2 c. water
1 c. sugar
1 bunch spearmint leaves, cleaned
2 Tbs. rum (I used coconut rum, but regular is fine)
In a small saucepan, heat the water, sugar, and spearmint to a boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep until cool. Strain the minted syrup through a sieve and add the lime juice and rum. Chill in the refrigerator for a couple of hours, until nice and cool.
Process in your ice cream maker according to manufacturer's directions. Note that the sorbet will melt quickly, so be ready to serve right away OR pack into a container, cover, and freeze overnight.