Mint – The Basics
Mint herbs are one of the most common herbs, found in foods from appetizers, to desserts, to beverages. They belong to the Mentha species of plants, and actually include many different varieties. The most well known in North America would be peppermint and spearmint, and are used incredibly often in flavoring for commercial use. While they have a delightful and fresh taste to them, they also have many other benefits, including being sources of pro-vitamin A, and Vitamin C. Mint is also the symbol of hospitality, and can be grown both indoors and out. If you chose to grow your mint herbs outdoors, there should be a barrier around the roots to keep it from becoming to invasive and overtaking your other plants.
Both spearmint and peppermint are perennial plants, meaning that they will keep coming back each season. Usually they reach anywhere between 1-3 feet tall, but there are also some varieties of mints that tend to stay closer to the ground. The plants themselves have square-shaped stems, and flowers that range in color from lilac, darker purple, white, or pink and bloom in mid-summer.
Growing Mint Herbs Properly
When planting your mint, take care that it is planted in a spot that receives full sun, or at the least, minimal shade. The soil should be moist and deep, but not too thick, and it should also contain some sand. To make sure not to let the plants get too overgrown, you should pinch off the ends of the flowers, keeping them from multiplying too quickly. See our articles on mulching to learn how to protect your plants and garden throughout the winter.
Mint plants have slim roots, but they grow long and wide, so making sure that the plants have enough room to spread and grow is very important. Because of the expanse of their roots, it’s generally recommended that you plant this herb outdoors, although it can be done as an indoor plant, as long as you take careful consideration when picking the size of the container they’re grown in.
If you do decide to grow your mint inside, remember that they need plenty of sunlight to thrive- at least 5 hours of direct, strong sunlight each day. You should remember to rotate them throughout the day in order to make sure that each side of the plant gets an even amount of sunlight. Hanging fluorescent lights about 6 inches above them for around 14 hours/day is the most ideal way to make sure that your plants get the best light and nourishment.
What to Use Your Mint For
Cabbage and tomatoes are just the beginning of what other plants would go well with your mint herbs. The smell of mint will help keep away cabbageworms, and spearmint particularly is helping in keeping aphids off of any plants in the immediate vicinity. If you have any fruit plants or trees that haven’t been producing their crop as well as you may hope, planting mint by them may help, as mints attract bees with their strong smell. The increased population of bees around your fruit crop will help to increase pollination and will in turn increase the crop yield.
There are so many different foods that you can use with your newly grown mints; you can put it in anything from roast lamb and fish, to salads, fruit salads, cheese, salads, soups, plain meats, sauces, teas, beans, whatever you think it may help enhance the flavor of. They’re great for decorative garnishes on desserts, and you can throw a sprig of mint into boiling water in order to give whatever you’re cooking some extra flavor. Mint helps to calm an upset stomach, and is commonly used in tea for that very reason. There really is no end to the use of mint in your kitchen, and because growing it is relatively easy, there’s really no downside to adding any form of mint herb to your garden!
Todd’s Seeds has a great selection of seed, and mint is currently for sale on Amazon.com!