Jan 302012
 
Mint in the garden

by Avis Licht

Mint in the garden

Mint is wonderful, but don't let it escape into the rest of the garden

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mints are quite possibly the easiest, most useful and most annoying herb in the garden. They are tough, unfussy, grow almost anywhere, are incredibly good for your health, can be used in drinks, cooking, insect repellant, digestive aid and more. And they will spread like the dickens in your garden.

PERENNIAL 

Mint is a perennial and will die back in the winter in cold climates. In mild climates you can expect to harvest it all year long.  To have mint in the winter, put it in a pot (you probably want to do this anyway to keep it from spreading) and put it in a protected spot.

VARIETIES

You can find all kinds of mint flavors without resorting to artificial color and flavorings. Imagine – chocolate mint!(M. x piperita “Mitcham”) It tastes like a peppermint patty. Orange ( M. x piperita citrata) or bergamot mint has a slightly orange flavor. Apple mint, pineapple mint, and golden apple mint are all easy to grow. Pennyroyal (M. pelugium) is a small creeping mint that has a very strong flavor and is used  to keep fleas and insects away. Peppermint (M. piperita) and spearmint  (M. spicata)are the most commonly used mints for teas. By growing your own mint you can match the mints with your own preferences. These are just a few of the mints. Go wild!

SOIL

Almost any soil will grow mint, but it prefers a rich, moist soil.  Amend with compost. If you plant it in the ground, consider putting it in a pot or bucket to keep it from spreading. A root barrier around the plants also helps to keep them in check.

PROPAGATION

The easiest way to propagate mint is to dig up some from the garden and divide it into as many pieces as you want plants. In this photo, I literally ripped it out of the ground.  It has roots and can be plopped into a pot or a safe place in the garden.

Roots of a mint plant

Pull them out of the ground and replant , as simple as one - two

HARVEST

Clip off the the tender new growth. Use it fresh, as mint loses much of its flavor and healthful qualities when dried. If your plants get old and woody, just cut them back to the ground and they’ll send up fresh new shoots.

Never say you weren’t warned!

MINT IN THE LANDSCAPE

I’ve let this mint grow as the edging to my garden fence.  Cars regularly run over it, but it doesn’t seem to care.  I only use the mint inside the garden for my edible use. Roadside herbs are not the best for eating. But it sure smells good when you step on it.

Mint along the road

Mint as an edging in the edible landscape

 

 

Nov 192011
 
Tea pots for the Tea Party?

A variety of teapots will always come in handy

One of the easiest edibles to produce in your own home garden is a drinkable.  Herbal teas are easy to grow, delicious and good for you. One can always buy dried tea at the store, but fresh herb tea is another thing altogether. The fragrance and aroma goes straight to the brain and release those happy endorphins.

Mint in its many forms: spearmint, peppermint, lemon balm, and other herbs:  raspberry leaf, lemon verbena, rose hip, chamomile, comfrey, nettle.  The list goes on and on.  Even the smallest garden can grow  herbs for tea. When you grow your own, you know that it is clean and organic.  And best of all, you can pick it and use it straight from the garden at its most nutritious.

After picking your leaves, wash carefully, then rub them together to let the essential oils out.  Add the herbs to a teapot or directly to a mug or cup. For each cup of tea, add approximately 2 to 3 teaspoons of fresh leaves and/or flowers. Slice rose hips in half before adding.

tea cup with strainer

This tea cup came with its own strainer.

A beautiful teapot or tea cup with strainer makes a wonderful gift. They don’t need to be expensive to be delightful. One of the signs  of a good teapot is a strainer to put the tea leaves in.  You can then remove it from the teapot or the cup when it is done steeping.

Everyone can enjoy their favorite tea if you have several small teapots available for making different teas. Glass teapots are very elegant. But apparently very breakable, which is why I don’t have a picture of mine to show you.

For those of you with a little Irish in your soul, you can add a little something to your tea to warm you up on those extra cold winter nights. I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what that is.

Enjoy!

Tea Pot with strainer

Small and elegant with its own strainer. A classic look.

Tea cup with strainer and top

Who could resist this sweet cup with its own top

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