Friday, July 15, 2016

Growing and Using Mint

Mint is one of my favorite plants in the garden and it seems that each year I grow more mint than the last. I have a practical reason for adding variety after variety... I like to harvest it, dry it and use it for tea. We drink a lot of tea in this house.

I think that last year we ran out of the mint I'd dried in the summer by November and so when I was planning my garden this year I knew I'd need more plants. And I knew I'd need to be more on the ball about harvesting it. The more you cut, the more it grows.

gardening, herbs, mint, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Mint is super easy to grow. In fact, it's a little too easy. It will effortlessly take over your garden if you grow it directly in the ground. I prefer to grow my mint in pots. Here's a view of part of my container garden from earlier in the summer:

gardening, container gardening, mint, geraniums, salvia, miniature roses, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I have a variety of pots of different sizes planted with mints, salvia (both the black and blue variety -- hummingbirds' favorite -- and pineapple sage), geraniums (pelargoniums) and miniature roses. It's easy to arrange and rearrange the pots and edit the arrangement. Combining flowers with the mint allows me to add some color. When planting in containers like this it's important to keep an eye on the soil and make sure to water regularly, possibly every day.

Mint is also a snap to propagate. In the early spring before our gardens had woken, my mom brought over a little bouquet of flowers for me from plants blooming in her house. There were a couple stems of geraniums and she added sprigs of mint. The mint sent out roots before the flowers had faded. I grew the cuttings on my windowsill and when they got leggy, cut the tops off to root them as well. Once the weather warmed up I planted them in pots and it didn't take them long to fill out.

mint, sketchbook, drawing, botanical sketchbook, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

I couple weeks ago I cut a stem of pretty, variegated apple mint as a painting subject, but I never got around to painting it. I bet you can guess what happened.

mint, cutting, plant propagation, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Now to find a spot for it.

When I harvest mint I gather the stems into bundles, removing the bottom leaves (which I dry separately)

gardening, harvest, mint, herbs, preserving, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

and hang the bundles upside down to dry in my studio. Here's a photo from last year:

mint, drying herbs, harvest, preserving, Anne Butera, My Giant Strawberry

Once the mint is dry I take down the bundles and break apart the stems into smaller pieces and store them in sterilized canning jars. You can either keep different varieties separate or combine them. I find tea made from a combination of varieties to be lovely.

So easy and so satisfying.

Do you grow mint in your garden or use it in your kitchen?

6 comments:

  1. I bet your studio smells wonderful Anne! I used to grow different types of mint; peppermint, spearmint, gingermint, applemint, etc. It must have died off due to my lack of attention. I really think I should grow some again. There is nothing finer than freshly cooked new potatoes with a big knob of butter, salt, pepper and a handful of chopped mint. I am really drawn towards your miniature rose at the moment too and would dearly love one in my garden. :)

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    1. It does! :)

      I love all the different types of mint. My favorite might be chocolate mint.

      My mint plants from last year died over the winter I think because their small pots froze solid. I'll have to do better this winter with keeping them alive. Hope you're able to add some to your garden again.

      I've never had mint with potatoes, but I think I'll have to try it. It sounds delicious!

      Wish I could send you a miniature rose, Simone. Here they're relatively inexpensive and easy to get ahold of. Sadly mine don't smell, but they are sweet little plants.

      Hope you have a lovely weekend!

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  2. Hi,
    I do grow mint, but I do not have the luck you have!!
    My mint died over the winter. I only have about 4 plants I am picking from for infused water.
    I will have to try to propagate it.
    Thank you for tips.
    Carla

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    1. Good luck with your mint, Carla. Mine died over the winter, too. I'm going to have to try harder this year to get them to overwinter. My mom had good luck keeping hers in their basement going semi dormant. The plants needed a haircut in the spring, but bounced back fine.

      I'm definitely going to have to try making some infused water!

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  3. i have the best recipe for a salad with mint and chives
    both cabbages, red and green thinly sliced, geated carrots, raw zucchini cubed, peanuts, chives chopped, mint chopped, satay sauce mixed in. utterly delicious

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    1. This sounds wonderful, Constanza! Thanks so much for sharing!!

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