Sunday 7 May 2017

Growing Mint ...

Fresh mint is one of my go-to herbs. I love mint tea of an afternoon, I'm partial to a nice Mojito, I'm a fan of chopped mint with new potatoes and I love a good Tabbouleh. So, all things told, I'm a major consumer. Through the winter months I purchase lots of little pots of fresh mint to keep on my kitchen window. When I'm done with them I plant them outside, and through the early spring and summer I'm pretty much self-sufficient.

The good news is that mint is just about the easiest thing in the world to grow. It's up there with Lemon Balm and Horse Radish: they're all really useful in the home and impossible to kill in the garden - guaranteed to survive a nuclear winter. But pay heed to the old saying: be careful what you wish for. With this voracious trio, you may start out welcoming them into your garden and feeling grateful that they're not fussy, but I guarantee that by the end of the season you'll think of them as a horticultural curse. They're cuckoo plants, but on an elephantine scale. Once the door is open they come in, make themselves at home and then set about colonising every square inch of their new domain. You will then spend days of your life weeding them out and trying to herd them back into the corner that they were intended to live, by which time you will be regretting that you didn't make do with buying what you needed from the greengrocer.

They are useful, but they need to be contained - literally. Think planters. Mint works very well in a large planter by the kitchen door. Harvest it regularly, don't let it grow lanky and fibrous, and you and your mint will have a very harmonious relationship.

The other day I happened to slip a shoot of my back door mint plant. I was weeding, and it came off by accident.  Absentmindedly I took it inside and put it in a jam-pot of tap water on the window to keep it fresh until I got around to using it. I hate wasting things. Days past. I went away for the bank holiday weekend, and still the mint didn't get used.

When I happened to look at it today, this is what I found:

It has sprouted the most amazing root system. And just look at all those healthy side-shoots. I've got a whole new viable mint plant for the terrace outside.

If you can't depend upon yourself to water your container herbs as often as they need to survive, you could plant the mint in an old colander in the open soil. My mother has done this very successfully for a number of years using an old wire basket from a chip fryer. It was a pretty ugly piece of kit that looked anything but promising when she started out, but it was spectacularly well designed to contain her mint plant from total world domination, whilst at the same time allowing it to absorb moisture from the soil around it. Happy days!

All the best for now, and happy gardening!

Bonny x

1 comment:

  1. I had some kind of mint here, and it did want to take over....I don't even remember how I came by it. I don't drink mint tea, but you make it sound tempting.