The mint herb is probably one of the more popular herbs with exceptionally fragrant leaves and tiny purple, pink, or white blossoms. There are numerous varieties of mint—all fragrant, regardless of whether the leaves are shiny, fluffy, smooth or crinkled, radiant green or variegated.
Notwithstanding, you can generally tell an individual from the mint family by its square stem. Moving it between your fingers, you will disturb the scent to release that well-known fragrance that brings memories flooding back (well, it does with us – Sunday roast lamb with the family, mint teas, etc. Bear in mind that not all the mint varieties are suitable for cooking, so it might be best to stick with the more popular ones. You don’t want to ruin your food!
Since mint can be rampant spreaders, you basically must be cautious where you plant it. It literally can take over your plot if allowed to run wild. Therefore, we bury a container with the plant in it, which prevents the roots from going anywhere. You need to keep in mind that if the mint touches the ground it could produce runners which will grow roots all over the place.
The mint (mentha) seed is minuscule, around 14,000 seeds for every gram and hard to sprout. As a result, many gardeners avoid growing from seed and instead buy a young plant from the nursery. Also, being an ardent cross raiser, seeds produce variable outcomes – regularly with different tastes and appearances to the parent plants.
The best way for gardeners to propagate mint is to divide the roots. Root division doesn’t seem to stifle growth. Using a hand saw or nursery shears, cut the rootball into quarters. Fill little 2-to 4-inch pots or plates with a mixture of 1/3 all around matured manure, 1/3 vermiculite or peat greenery, and 1/3 sand. If you cannot do this, then choose a good quality compost that is peat-free. Water well until the compost is wet through. Repot 2 or 3 quarters in new soil and separate the leftover quarter to make a few more modest root cuttings, each cutting with at least one stem on it. Trim off the top growth and carefully prune the furry roots to fit into your containers. Set the cuttings, then top up with soil and firm delicately. Water gently, then set out in a sunny place, keep the soil damp, and soon you will have new, healthy plants.
There isn’t much to say about growing the plant. The only thing to cover is that if the plant gets too old, you can pull it out of the container, divide the roots up, and set a new, smaller plant in fresh compost.
You can begin picking off mint leaves once the plants have produced some stems that are around 6 to 8 inches in length (15 – 20 cm). This should take approximately two months to grow the plants from seed or less time if you purchase nursery plants. Try not to gather more than a third of the plant, as this may shock the plant, which can discourage new growth. Cut branches and leaves depending on the situation. If you don’t gather your mint consistently, it will benefit from a trim mid-season. Eventually, you will presumably see the stems getting longer and the leaves getting more limited. That is an ideal opportunity to scale the plants back by a third or so. This will urge them to produce new foliage once more, with plenty of leaves.
You can pick off the leaves and put them in ice cube trays to use when you want.
Mint can now and then get something called rust, which shows up as little orange spots on the undersides of leaves. This causes leaves to drop, and on occasion, it will kill the whole plant.
You can also get mint beetles, which are green, shiny creatures. They feed on the foliage, and these too can kill the plants. These creatures are big enough to pick off with your fingers and dispose of.
There are literally hundreds of recipes using mint at BBC Good Food.
There are over 600 varieties of mint! Here are a few of them:
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