It's festive season, readers, and time to convert that wholesome vegie patch into an edible cocktail bar that will be the envy of your friends.
"Muddling" and "infusing" garden-fresh herbs into cocktails is bang on trend – particularly with the explosion of local craft gins and vermouths.
Herbs grow so well in this summer heat; bushing up quickly with new tasty growth and deeply aromatic leaves.
The best herbs to use in your summer cocktails are mint, basil and rosemary. And if you want to experiment with some native edibles try lemon myrtle leaves, which grow in bush and tree form. When gently boiled in a sugar syrup, they also make a refreshing lemon cordial.
Caring for your living cocktail herb garden is simple. Transplant your garden centre-bought herbs into larger pots or window-sill planter boxes filled with organic potting mix and a little manure and compost.
Water regularly, and every fortnight add a small dose of seaweed liquid fertiliser to your watering can. Keep your herbs in your sunniest position (herbs like at least 6-7 hours of direct sunlight each day) and harvest the tips regularly to encourage new bushy growth.
Pick your herbs just before you're about to use them to maximise their flavour. If you want a lighter mocktail, just leave out the alcohol and add some extra soda water.
- Related: From tree to table: Stylist-approved Christmas tips
- Related: The no-nos of Christmas gift-giving
- Related: A guide to celebrating Christmas in your backyard
Indira is a guest presenter on Gardening Australia, Saturdays 6.30pm on ABC1 or on iView. Buy Indira Naidoo's garden cookbooks The Edible Balcony and The Edible City at Dymocks.
Here's a favourite recipe of mine from my book The Edible Balcony to get your Christmas party off to a great start.
Ingredients (makes one)
10 mint leaves, plus extra to serve
A lime cut into four wedges
2 tbsp caster sugar
45ml white rum
Cup (125 ml) soda water
Place mint leaves and one lime wedge in a tall glass and crush with a muddler (or with the end of a wooden spoon) to release the juices. Add sugar and two more lime wedges then crush again. Do not strain the mixture.
Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour in the rum and fill the glass with soda water (125 ml). Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.