How to Grow Mint
Peppermint, spearmint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint.. Oh how I love the mint family! I use this fragrant herb for stomach soothing tea, joint and muscle relief salves, and organic extracts for cookies and coffee but the uses are quite limitless.
This is such a nostalgic plant for me. Not only was it the first plant I managed to keep alive, but it's been thriving for 20 years at the family home! What started as a small herb garden has grown to a thick and lustrous haven of mint. The plants I tended to as a young girl are now being cared for by my own children. Call me a sentimental fool but there's something magical about that.
Growing Mint from Seeds:
How to plant mint in the garden:
Start your mint seeds indoors 8-10 weeks before the last frost. When planting your mint seeds or seedlings, you want to space them about 18 inches apart. Be advised that mint spreads quickly, so place it in an area of your garden where it will be contained or in a place where you don't mind the ground cover.
Mint enjoys well drained, nutrient rich soil. It can grow in full as well as part sun, and doesn't seem to prefer more of one condition than the other. You will find mint to be a hardy herb to grow, as it can deal with most growing conditions and still come out thriving!
How to plant mint in containers:
The mint family (including lemon balm) can quickly take over the area where it is planted so they make great herbs to plant in containers. Container growing is also ideal if you are limited on space but still want fresh herbs in your kitchen. When planting mint in containers, feel free to mix your varieties! My large barrel container has lemon balm, apple mint, chocolate mint, and lavender mint. Each plant has distinctly unique flavor and aromatic profiles, and make a ridiculously delicious cup of tea! 1-2 seedlings per 18 inch pot is ideal, then you can care for the plant as you would if you planted it directly in your garden.
How to plant mint from cuttings:
To take a cutting, find a 4-6 inch sprig with a thick stem from the plant.
Prepare the cutting by trimming off the bottom leaves, leaving at least four leaves up top.
Drop the trimmed stems into water making sure the remaining leaves stay out to prevent bacteria growth. I keep my favorite tea cup near by when I'm trimming so I can make a cup of tea afterwards. Double win!
Place the container in a well-ventilated window that gets decent morning light and change the water daily.
You should see roots forming around day 5-6. Once the roots have sprouted, transfer the plant to a pot filled with well-draining, preferably organic soil or plant directly into the ground.
Caring for Mint Plants:
To keep your plants thriving through the summer months, you should pinch back and harvest often. I make a cup of fresh herbal tea every morning in early spring while I'm getting the plants established. Regular watering is also necessary, so plan on giving your mint plants 1 inch of water per week, more if the temperature is especially hot and dry. A layer of mulch is perfect for keeping the roots cool and helping the plant retain moisture between watering.
These are perennial herbs and won't need replanted from year to year. Before the cooler weather settles in, cut your plants back and mulch over the area to protect the roots through the winter. I don't use anything fancy, I mulch dried leaves with the lawn mower, rake the mix over the area, and call it a day.
How to Harvest Mint:
When you are ready to harvest your mint, you will want to pinch it at the stem to remove it. If you need to remove a lot, remove from above the second set of leaves. This is where your flavor will be best. Mint can be used fresh in desserts or drinks, or dried to use in teas and skincare infusions later. If you harvest more than you can use at once, simply dry or freeze the leaves.
At this point, your options for using your freshly harvested mint leaves are endless. Dry them for herbal tea, make an oil infusion, or use them for your own herbal infused skincare creations.
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