Mint Care

I grow both Mint and Peppermint. Both are essentially weeds, they should be grown in pots unless you want them to take over your whole garden bed. Invasive is quite the understatement. Luckily I like them both. Peppermint mostly just for hot tea, I suppose I could have cold tea too, that hadn’t occurred to me, I will try it next hot day. Mint I like fresh in my food, I dry a bit for tea but not a lot. My fear of running out of food comes into play and when I am trimming the plant to encourage good growth I cannot discard the off cuts I must keep it, use it, love it, drink it. I throw the stems in to the chickens not the compost or it will grow there.

The down side of growing in pots is their immense root system, they are forever trying to put roots and runners out in their attempts at world domination. So they do become root bound. I am not an expert, but this is what I do. I last did it about 2 years ago, I will probably do it again in 2 years. They looked a bit lame, woody, sad.

The peppermint on the right does not usually have a bald patch in the middle, this mint should have quite a lot more foliage.
The peppermint on the right does not usually have a bald patch in the middle, this mint should have quite a lot more foliage.

The mint looked the saddest…

IMG_4251As I said, they are weeds, so you don’t need to be very careful or gentle with them. I tipped them out, had a look at their roots, so many!

IMG_4253I was a little bit more careful with the peppermint as I have only had it for 2 years and I don’t know if it is as hardy as the mint (turns out it is…) so I hacked away at the whole thing and took a segment, roots, leaves and all.

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Then I refilled the pot with some of the old soil and some of my compost.

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Put the bit that I had hacked away in this. This should give the plant new nutrients in the soil and heaps of soil to put new roots through.

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Then it looked like this. I turned my attention to the mint. It is super hardy, never buy mint, it grows from a cutting that you have taken from a friend, forgotten about, left in the the car over night, then put in soil and forgotten again. Hardy stuff! Always take a cutting, never pay for it!

The mint I did differently. I know how hard it is to kill this so I felt more confident leaving less roots, less plant in general. It didn’t kill it last time, it came back so healthy. So I did the same thing with the soil, some old, plus compost. Then added these.

IMG_4260I just pulled on some of the healthier bits and some of the root came with it. Even if no root had come I would still have planted them. They will put new roots out super easily. IMG_4261Probably only needed to put one or two. But put 4.

It is always a group activity, even when I am in an area that is fenced off from the ladies…

IMG_4257The rest of the plant that I didn’t put in the soil I stripped of leaves and threw the rest in for the ladies to clean up.

I watered the pots and called it done 🙂 Mint family likes to be watered regularly and to be in partial sun, not full. I really should move these. They live here in Winter so they get enough sun, then I move them in Summer so they don’t dry out and get sad.

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Due to the nature of my gardening (messy) there was a fair bit of dirt hanging around. I don’t usually bother but I did wash the leaves this time. Then *arranged* them on a clean tea towel. I separate the mint from the peppermint as I find them a bit hard to tell apart when they are dry.

IMG_4265So pretty

IMG_4266I leave them a few days, then move them around a bit and hope that this allows the bits that were touching the tea towel to now be exposed to the air. There is no science to my process. After about a week they felt dry and crumbly.

IMG_4277It has been quite warm, sometimes it takes longer than this. I haven’t had any go mouldy in the jar so I assume I am letting them dry sufficiently. Once they are dry and crumbly I write on a glass jar Peppermint November 2015. It helps me know what to drink first. Sometimes I pull the leaves off before I dry them, sometime I pull them off after they have dried. Sometimes I leave them on their stems.   That is my process, please let me know if you do it differently. I am very open to some actual reasoning behind actions.

The plants still look super happy, no shock, no death. Winning!

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I am ready for my first pot of tea from this batch.

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Garden Tea prepping

Even though here in sunny Melbourne we are in the midst of a glorious Spring I am preparing for Winter. I only really crave hot tea like beverages when the weather is cold but the chamomile plant is at it’s most prolific for me now, so I will make hay while the sun shines (or tea…)

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I grow my chamomile in pots, it is self seeded, I haven’t planted any seeds for years. This is probably what makes it a Spring crop for me, I cannot keep up with the watering requirements of a pot in Summer. It would need watering every couple of hours on a super hot day.

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This is my 4th harvest. I cut the flowers every 4 or 5 days. I am hoping to get a jar full. That ought to get me through Winter. The Lemon verbena is looking lovely and healthy. I will start cutting leaves off that soonish.

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My peppermint (which I forgot to take a photo of and am now to lazy to get up a go get) is not looking too great. I think it is root bound and needs some TLC, I’ll get on to that soon. I will harvest that in Autumn.

Then I will be set for tea in the Winter 🙂