Mint is one among the foremost popular herbs. There are many mints for the gardener and cook to settle on from: spearmint, peppermint, apple mint, pennyroyal, lemon mint, pineapple mint, and ginger mint to call a couple of . Cooks prefer spearmint for many savory dishes; it’s less overpowering than other mints like peppermint which is extremely strong flavored with a robust menthol aroma. Mint leaves are utilized in teas, cold drinks, salads, and vegetables, and, of course, mint may be a favorite served with peas and lamb.
GET to understand MINT
- Botanical name and family: Mentha species. There are many sorts of mint. Peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint ( Mentha spicata) are the simplest known. See other mint varieties below. All are members of the Lamiaceae—mint family.
- Origin: Europe
- Type of plant: Herbaceous perennial
- Growing season: Summer
- Growing zones: Zones 5 to 9
- Hardiness: Mint is cold hardy to -20°F and simply withstands frost. Mint is often grown in cold winter climates but it’s best over-wintered during a sheltered place or indoors. Mint can tolerate high humidity.
- Plant form and size: Mint generally grows upright 1 to three feet tall, though a couple of growing much shorter. Mint stems easily root once they touch the bottom so mint is often invasive.
- Flowers: Whorls of Pieris rapae, lavender, or purple blossoms on terminal spikes.
- Bloom time: Bloom mid-summer to fall.
- Leaves: Dark green, creased, round to oval leaves pointed at the ideas grow opposite each other on four-sided stems.
HOW TO PLANT MINT
- Best location: Plant mint in filtered shade or partial shade; mint will tolerate full sun but it’s best to avoid hot, direct sun.
- Soil preparation: Mint grows best in loamy and moist but well-drained soil. don’t add an excessive amount of aged compost or aged manure to the world where mint grows; high fertility can leave mint vulnerable to rust. Mint prefers a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.0.
- Seed starting indoors: Start mint from seed indoors in spring 3 to 4 weeks before the last frost. Mint seeds are often slow to germinate. Start mint in flats under fluorescent lights. Note: mint seed doesn’t always grow faithful to the parent. Sowing store-bought seed will make sure you grow the variability you would like.
- Transplanting to the garden: Set mint seedlings within the garden two or more weeks after the last frost in spring. Grow mint from divisions or cuttings started in cool weather, spring or fall. you’ll also plant store-bought seedlings in spring or fall.
- Outdoor planting time: Sow seed outdoors in early spring. Plants started from division or layering are often planted within the garden from spring to fall.
- Planting depth: Sow seed ¼ to ½ inch deep. Grow mint in bottomless containers set into the ground; this may keep roots and stems from running into other parts of the garden.
- Spacing: Space plants 12 to 18 inches apart or more; mint spreads quickly.
- How much to plant: Plant one or two mints for cooking. Grow 8 to 12 plants for tea and preserving. a spread of mints is often grown in separate containers.
- Companion planting: Plant mint with asparagus, carrots, celery, cucumbers, onions, parsley, peppers, and tomatoes. don’t plant mint within the same container as other herbs; it can choke out other plants. The sharp fragrance of mint repels insect pests; the flowers attract beneficial insects. Mint is claimed to enhance the vigor and flavor of cabbage and tomatoes. Unchecked mint is often very invasive; plant it in pots and set the pots near the plants you would like to guard. Place saucers beneath the pots therefore the roots do no escape.
HOW TO GROW MINT
- Watering: Water mint regularly and evenly. Mint prefers moist soil. If grown in dry soil mint will spread less rapidly.
- Feeding: Feed mint at planting time and again in mid-summer with compost tea or a dilute solution of fish emulsion. Top-dress mint with an in. or more of compost or well-rotted manure in fall.
- Care: Mint is often invasive; it spreads rapidly by shallow, underground runners. Contain mint within metal strips set 10 inches into the soil or bottomless containers 10-inches deep sunk into the bottom . Dig out old plants after five years and begin anew.
- Pruning: Keep mint pinched back for fuller growth; prune back the highest half the plant in late spring and mid-summer. Cut woody stems back to encourage succulent growth. Avoid letting flowers bloom; flowering will decrease the oil content of leaves. Removing flowers also will prevent cross-pollination. Thin clumps permanently air circulation to stop root and foliage disease. crop and replant mints every two to 3 years. If not crop, mint can become woody.
- Container growing: Mint is often container-grown as an annual. Choose a container a minimum of 8 to 10 inches deep. Divide and repot container-grown mints per annum to stay them healthy.
- Winter growing: Cut mint back to the bottom in late autumn and put mulch on top to guard crowns and roots from winter cold.
- Pests: Aphids, mealybugs, and spider mites can attack mint; spray these away with a robust blast of water or spray them with insecticidal soap.
- Diseases: Mints are vulnerable to verticillium wilt, mildew, and mint rust. Avoid overhead watering which may leave plants vulnerable to fungal diseases. Remove diseased or dead stems and leaves from the bed before winter. Replant the roots during a different spot. Mint rust may be a fungal disease—the lower leaves are going to be speckled with orange; destroy the infected leaves and replant the roots in another spot.
HOW TO HARVEST MINT
- When to harvest: Pick mint leaves and sprigs as you would like them throughout the season . Cutaway flower stalks before they bloom for a sweeter taste. Cut the whole plant right down to 2 or 3 inches above the soil at midseason and it’ll regrow for a second harvest.
- How to harvest: Use a snip or scissors to chop off the highest leaves and tips of branches or pinch off individual leaves for fresh use. For drying, cut stems 4 to six inches above the soil surface.
MINT within the KITCHEN
- Flavor and aroma: Mint features a sweet, slightly hot flavor, and a cool aftertaste. Mint features a strong menthol aroma.
- Leaves: Add freshly chopped mint leaves to leafy green salads, fruit salads, or pasta salads.
- Add mint to cooked peas, steamed potatoes, and carrots. Add a tablespoon of minced mint to cooked rice just before serving. Add mint to veal, eggplant, beans, fruit salads, beverages, creamy vegetables, soups, and sauces. Serve mint leaves with peas and lamb. Use leaves to flavor drinks, jellies, candy, chocolate, and desserts. Add spearmint to steamed carrots or new potatoes. Add apple mint and pineapple mint to drinks, fruit salads, pot cheese, and cream cheeses.
- Teas: Use mint to flavor teas. Add a sprig of mint to a pitcher of lemonade to make a refreshing drink
- Culinary companions: Mint may be a complement to cilantro, lemon verbena, oregano, and rosemary. Mint will complement the flavors of meat, fish, and vegetable dishes.
PRESERVING AND STORING MINT
- Refrigeration: Wrap mint during a damp towel and store it in a perforated bag within the refrigerator crisper where it’ll keep for 2 or three days.
- Drying: Dry stems the wrong way up during a warm, shady place; let stems dry for two to five days then strip dried leaves to be stored in an airtight jar. Leaves can also be dried during a dehydrator. Mint holds its fragrance and flavor when dried.
- Freezing: Freeze mint leaves during a bag. Freeze leaves in ice cubes for later use. Freeze 6 to 8-inch sprigs. Crumble frozen mint into cookie dough for minty cookies.
- Storing: Store dried mint leaves in an airtight jar.
- Seed: Mint seed doesn’t always grow faithful to its parent. Cuttings, division, and layering are better propagation alternatives.
- Cuttings: Root stem cutting in water. you’ll also cut a runner into sections several inches long then place the cuttings in moist, sterile growers mix and set during a sunny spot to root.
- Division: Divide plants and roots by slicing the plant or roots in half with a spade. Get new divisions started in cool, not weather.
- Layering: Cover the nodes of runners (stolons) with soil to root new plants. Rooted runners are easy to divide and plant separately.
MINT VARIETIES TO GROW
There are quite600 species and cultivars of mint; here are popular cultivars:
- Spearmint (Mentha spicata): dark green toothed leaves are slightly smaller than those of peppermint with a crinkly look and feel; the plant grows to 2 feet high; use fresh or dried to flavor food. this is often the foremost popular mint for culinary use.
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita): the plant grows to three feet high and has strongly scented dark green toothed and pointed leaves to three inches long with purple flowers. Leaves provide a cooling sensation within the mouth and throat; use to flavor sweets.
- Apple mint (M. suaveolens): stiff stems that grow 20 to 30 inches high; round, green-gray leaves 1 to 4 inches long are slightly hairy; purplish-white flowers on 3-inch spikes.
- Corsican mint (M. requiring): a little creeping plant that grows about 1 inch high; round leaves are slightly hairy and gray-green, about 1 to 4 inches long; purple-white flowers
- Chocolate mint (M. x Piperita ‘Chocolate’): this mint features a chocolate flavor.
- Curly mint (
- M. spicata ‘Crispata’): this is often a coffee-growing groundcover that’s quite aromatic.
- Ginger mint (M. x gentilis ‘Variegata’): a touch of ginger to mint flavor.
- Golden apple mint (M.x gracilis): smooth, deep green leaves variegated with yellow; the plant grows to 2 feet tall; use leaves to flavor foods.
- Horsemint ( M.longifolia): oval, hairy leaves; aromatic.
- Japanese mint ( arvensis piperescens): dark green leaves.
- Lemon mint (M. x Piperita citrate): fresh lemony scent.
- Orange bergamot mint (M. x citrate): grows to about 2 feet tall and wide and has dark green, 2-inch leaves that are edged with purple; they taste and smell slightly or oranges; flowers are lavender growing in dense spikes.
- Pennyroyal (M. pulegium): low grower with downy, oval leaves that aren’t quite ½ inch long; small, rosy lilac flowers bloom in late summer and fall; leaves are often toxic in large amounts.
- Pineapple mint (M. suaveolens ‘Variegata’): pineapple fragrance when young.
- Water mint ( aquatic): round to oval leaves; strop peppermint fragrance.