Written by Sara Dixon
Family, Genus: Lamiaceae, Mentha
Growing conditions: likes moist soil, to be in sun or partial shade, and will thrive in both pots and in the ground.
Pests: Mint Beetle, Aphids
Mint, of all the herbs, is the biggest thug in the garden! It spreads. And spreads. And spreads… Which can be just what you want of course and most certainly it is what pollinators want – my bees just love the flowers. And there is hardly a prettier sight than a whole area of flowering Mint blowing in a Summer breeze surrounded by buzzing bees.
However, that vista is not for all of us. If you want your Mint under control, keep it in a pot. Keep the roots constrained for as long as you can.
And… make sure to plant your different flavoured Mints way away from each other – if the roots meet, you are left with mere Spearmint, not that wonderful variety of Chocolate Mint, Strawberry Mint, Basil Mint, that you planted.
Spreading roots is not the only thing to be wary of – according to Culpeper, it was the ‘Herb of Venus’ – encouraging ‘venery and bodily lust’ so just go a wee bit careful with it won’t you!
Varieties & Uses:
There are many mint varieties and you will of course grow your own personal favourite flavours of Mint but here are a few of my favourites AND how I use them in my cooking:
Applemint – perfect in mint sauce.
After Eight mint – like munching the chocolate sweets but low in calories… I keep a pot by my computer and munch away!
Berries and Cream, Banana, Jessica’s Sweet pear mints – perfect for topping your jellies for that taste of Summer.
Basil mint – tomato salads, here we come!
Moroccan mint – the perfect mint for herbal teas.
Sweet Lemon, Lime and Orange mints – in Gin. That’s all!
Pineapple mint – for cocktails.
Garden mint/Spearmint – the best loved of all, most commonly grown in our gardens. Potato salad. Peas. Perfect.
Corsican mint/Rock peppermint – something of a spreader so works well as ground cover. In recipes, you only need a few of the leaves only as it is VERY intense.
Grapefruit mint – I don’t like grapefruit, but when I feel I just must have some, I add grapefruit mint to it and it seems to make the taste more palatable!
Ginger, Orange mints – great in bean salads, stir fry and on top of pizzas.
So there are some some ideas, be sure to experiment with as many as you can!
Mint in Myths:
There is a charming story about mint: Menthe was a beautiful water nymph. The God Hades fell in love with her. Hades’ wife was distinctly unimpressed by this state of affairs and she turned Menthe into a plant which could be forever trodden upon. Hades could not stop the spell but he was able to ‘tweak’ the plant so that whenever trodden upon the plant released the most beautiful scent. All’s well that ends well – kind of.