Mint grows very well in most gardens – in fact so well its often planted in containers to check its lush sprawl. In spite of this, it seems like we never have enough growing in our garden come summer - when marinades, sauces, teas and salads all beckon for a minty signature to bring them to perfection. Mint is a perennial herb and once you have it in your garden you shouldn’t need to buy it ever again as runners with roots on them and cuttings soaked in water until they develop roots can be planted to replenish older plants. Mint grows to around knee height.
A runner is a low stem that grows away from a larger plant across the soil. Where it produces leaves it also produces roots that anchor it to the soil. These runners can easily be cut from the main plant, carefully lifted and then re-planted, so that soil covers their roots.
A cutting is a stem with leaves – say around a finger to a hand in length - that is cut from a plant. With mint cuttings all you need do is stand them in a glass of water so that a third of the stem is submerged and within a few days or weeks you will see roots start to grow. Simply plant into soil or potting compost and you have a new plant.
Companions Beetroot, broccoli, Brussels sprout, cabbage, cauliflower, chilli pepper, aubergine, kale, kohlrabi, lettuce, squash, peas, tomato.
Quantity 1 plant per person.
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Peppermint a great variety for making tea and for drying.
Apple mint has rounded leaves and a sweeter, milder flavour than many other mints.
Orange mint has a crisp, citrus flavour. Use fresh in salads and puddings.
Vietnamese mint has slender pointed leaves with a strong flavour suited to Asian dishes.
Spearmint the most common garden variety. Sweet tasting invasive growing!
Plant cuttings or runners with roots on them in spring or summer for best results – although as long as they have leaves on them cuttings or runners will take root any time of the year.
Mint likes sunshine morning and afternoon but it is best if you can protect it from the scorching midday sun. It grows very well in pots where its almost aggressive growth can be checked.
Mint grows on most soils but will do best in a moist, fertile soil with a bit of organic matter dug through it – kitchen compost, well rotted manure, sheep pellets or worm compost are ideal.
If you want to plant mint into your garden beds dig a hole the size of an old bucket. Take the bucket and cut off the bottom. Place the bucket into the hole with the lip about half a finger’s length above surrounding soil level. Back fill with soil/compost to the same level of surrounding soil. Plant your mint inside the confines of the bucket which should stop it from taking rampant hold of the surrounding garden.
Plant seedlings, runners or cuttings at an average spacing of a good hand’s length to a forearm apart. Protect with a plastic juice bottle cloche as plants establish.
Remove cloches as plants establish. Water regularly if weather is dry.
Pick the tips regularly to encourage bushy growth and tender stems with fresh foliage. If you have established plants in your garden then cut them back whenever they start to look straggly to stimulate fresh new growth.
The foliage of mint dies back in the winter, although in some warm spots you might find a few leaves linger. Not to worry, it will come back in the spring. Protect plants from heavy frosts in cooler areas by mulching with straw. Remove mulching layer as soil warms up in the spring.