By Penny Woodward

Mints grow well in pots

Mints growing in pots at Diggers, Heronswood on the Mornington Peninsula

Mints Mentha spp. Lamiaceae.
The mint family is extremely varied and it is often difficult to identify individual species because of their tendency to hybridise. There is also confusion with both common and scientific names.
Mints are easy to cultivate and can be grown from seed or by root division in spring and summer. As they spread rapidly from underground runners, they should be contained. These days I grow all my mints in pots. This not only stops them from taking over the garden, but also helps to stop them getting mixed up with other mints. They prefer a humus-rich soil, reasonable drainage and semi-shaded condtions, although they will grow in full sun as long as the soil is not too dry. 

Spearmint and peppermint growing together

Peppermint leaves are more blue-green, while the spearmint is a fresh bright, pebbled green.

Sparkling peppermint drink, ingredients

The ingredients for sparkling peppermint drink are simple and easy to find as long as you have the peppermint

Peppermint ( M. piperita) grows to about 60 cm with spearhead shaped leaves. Both the leaves and stems are tinged with purple. It is used to make peppermint tea, which aids digestion and helps to relieve cold symptoms; the distilled oil is used in sweets, medicines and toothpaste. The cultivar ‘Crispa’ has curled leaves, ‘Lime Mint’ has lime scented leaves and ‘Variegata’ leaves with yellow splashes.

Sparkling peppermint drink

Delicious, refreshing sparkling peppermint drink

Sparkling peppermint drink     

bunch of fresh peppermint leaves
500 ml of water
2 tablespoons honey
juice of 1 lemon
1 litre soda water
ice cubes
sprigs of peppermint

1) Roughly chop the peppermint leaves.
2) Boil the water, place the leaves in the bottom of a bowl and pour the boiling water over the top. Leave to stand for 5 minutes.
3) Stir in the honey and leave to cool. Strain into a large jug and chill.
4) Just before serving add the lemon juice, soda water and ice cubes. Serve in individual long glasses and garnish each with a sprig of peppermint.

Other herbs that can be used to make cooling summer drinks include lemon balm; lemon and lime verbena; other mints – especially apple mint, chocolate mint, ginger mint and spearmint; salad burnet and scented pelargoniums.
This recipe is from my book Growing Easy Herbs for Beauty, Fragrance and Flavour