Mint

Well, it has been a long hard winter for us Texans, many of you have been away from your gardens during this unusually harsh season, but the hands of time never stop and thankfully Spring is imminent! What better time to talk about another beloved herb that is especially helpful in the garden during the cooler months? Mint is a very useful plant for many reasons, some you already know and some that you may not be aware of . In this issue we will explore the many uses for this rugged beauty, if you don’t already have it, you will want to get some in your garden stat!

The mint family has about 25 species and hundreds of varieties. Peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint, apple mint, and ginger mint just to name a few.

Cultivation

In general, mints not only tolerate, but thrive in a wide range of conditions. They prefer moist, shaded areas, but will do fine in full sun and drier conditions as well. It really doesn’t get much easier than that! In fact, mint can be downright invasive so that many gardeners omit it from their gardens altogether. However, with a little care, you can enjoy a serious bounty of this special herb without sacrificing order and space for your other garden buddies. Mint grows from rhizomes and sends out runners underground as well as branches that root when they come into contact with soil. To Keep it under control, simply plant it in a bottomless pot and bury in the ground that way. Keep branches trimmed enough to keep them upright by harvesting regularly. When the pot gets overcrowded, dig it up, divide the plant, and give someone else the gift of mint!   For those of you who have empty space that you would like to have filled with hardy, fragrant, flowering beauty, mint is perfect! Mint repels mosquitos, so I suggest you pop some in the ground where there is thick ivy growing since mosquitos LOVE to hang out there.

Pests and Diseases

Mint can be vulnerable to grasshoppers, caterpillars, whiteflies and rust.

Culinary Uses

In the kitchen, mint is widely used in both sweet and savory dishes from ice cream to lamb, with veggies and fruits. It imparts an earthy richness that is both refreshing and delightfully aromatic in all applications from sauces to soups, beverages and desserts. I suggest growing several varieties as you will find exciting uses for them all. Not the least of which will be to flavor refreshing summer drinks like chocolate mojitos, pineapple mint juleps and of course, good ol’ peppermint iced tea!

Medicinal Uses

Mint is commonly used as a digestion aid to relieve everything from gas, to stimulate appetite, and to relieve nausea. The oils can be used as a topical analgesic to relieve pain and increase circulation. When combined with rosemary in vinegar, mint can be used to treat dandruff. And of course, it is your best bet for fighting off bad breath!

Companion Planting

Mint is a great companion herb for brassicas, especially cabbage, as it repels cabbage moths. It also helps improve the health of tomato plants. It also repels ants, flea beetles, rodents, and aphids. Simply place cuttings or dried leaves in affected areas of your home or garden. You can crush the leaves and rub on your skin to repel mosquitos too.

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