Thursday, May 26, 2016

Friendship Mint! (The plant that is easy to share)

I started growing peppermint and spearmint when I was pregnant with Chase (who is now 11).  I almost always have at least one plant going, because a few times I have lost my plant due to leaving it in a windowsill, vulnerable to the hot sun while out of town!  I usually keep it inside because the smell is so wonderful.  I totally forgot I planted a little sprig in this container in my garden last year, from a cutting off of my friend Margaret’s healthy plant.. It is not tiny anymore!  In fact I cut a bunch of sprigs off this morning before I took this picture!!  J Now that I know how well it does outdoors I am probably going to have containers of mint all over the place! Haha!  And all my friends will probably have mint plants pretty soon as well! J   The plant that keeps on giving!   

I have only grown peppermint and spearmint, but there are many other varieties, all of which I’ve read are just as easy to maintain.  And yes, the peppermint and spearmint are significantly different, in fragrance and flavor!  Grow them both!  Lots of water and a good spot in the sun has always worked for me growing mint indoors.  Just don’t let your plant dry out!

When you are sharing, or if someone is sharing with you, cut your sprigs above one of the junctions of the established plant. The sprigs I cut this morning are in jars of water and in a week or so will have a whole bunch of thin white roots hanging down.. That is when they are ready to be planted in some good soil!   I've never tried to grow mint from seed but I have read that it is pretty difficult.  Start with a cutting for a much easier go!

Grow your sprig in a container unless you want the mint to take over everything. It will spread like a weed and steal the resources from everything else if you don’t keep it in check!  (Though a whole garden of mint doesn’t sound like a bad thing.. J)  Use a big container if you want to grow a big plant. A small container will make your plant get root bound quickly which will stall it’s growth.  And you are going to want a big, happy mint plant anyway! 

During the harvesting season don’t pull off all the leaves at once. I usually like to just harvest the amount I need at that time, for dinner, or cocktails.  You can harvest it all right before frost though, because the above ground plant will die off anyways. (The roots will survive and return next spring). The last harvest is a great time to dry for tea!  When I am drying the leaves I just lay them out on a plate.  Once they are crispy and dry I store them in a mason jar.  You can also hang-dry bundles of branches. 

Split your plant every few years so it stays healthy, fragrant and flavorful! Mint is a wonderfully useful plant!  I’ve used it for tea, relaxing baths, on salmon, on potatoes, in lemonade, in mojitos in mint julips, and even on pizza (look up early pizza history.. homemade crust with traditional ingredients of mint, honey and mozzarella are surprisingly delicious!) 
How do you use your mint?

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