Thursday, June 28, 2012

Mint (Lamiaceae mint family) and a great watermelon salad

I have several types of mint  growing in my garden. Spearmint, peppermint, and Chocolate Mint.

Mint, love it or leave it, can become super invasive if not controlled. It grows and spreads by runners and seeds and will take over the garden in no time. It can be grown in pots or in the garden. Mint is a sun loving plant that likes to be watered and is not finicky about the soil.. If you put mint in the shade, it will grow floppy and the flavor will not be as strong as when you grow it in the sun. 

If you are going to grow several types of mint do not mix them. I put three kinds of mint in a large pot and in two years could not tell them apart. The peppermint also smothered the chocolate mint out altogether. Another hint about growing mint in a pot is to not let it establish itself by growing in circles. Keep it as free growing as possible. After several years the mint will strangle itself and stop producing. There have been articles written describing how an old mint plant broke a clay pot. I guess the coil pushes out and the pot developes a crack. 

Growing mint in the garden? It will spread and grow like a weed. You must keep it contained or it will "run"it's little stolens all over your garden. Mint will grow 20 feet under weedblock and come out the other side and with no water in mid summer. Mint spreads two ways, by runners and by seed. I do not let the seeds broadcast in my garden. It is usually not the same taste as the original mint. Since mint is a perennial herb and aggressive it should be divided every year.    So fellow gardener, don't be afraid to be ruthless and pull out some of that mint, roots and all. If you love mint as I do, know the risk and stay on top of it.

I harvest my mint by cutting off the tender tops for a light taste and the larger leaves for a heavier taste. I also cut it about 4 to  5 " from the ground during the season to keep it strong and growing without putting the energy into seeds. I cut my mint to the ground in late fall after the first frost.

I have found "Other Uses" for mint on a few websites. 
Repellents for mice and insects     (I actually tried the Mice one and I believe it worked)
Foot soaks and foot scrubs
Facial mist and toners
Medicinals   I have not given the medicinal recommendations for mint and there are many. If anyone is interested in homeopathic remedies mint has been used for centuries.

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