Herbs – A good supply of Mint

The Plant:

This has been a good year for mint.  Mint doesn’t like it too hot and this summer certainly hasn’t been Melbourne’s hottest, as my unripe capsicums etc can testify.   I grow my mint in pots.  Mint is invasive and shoots really easily from root stock so if you do plant it direct in the garden it can both take over and be very difficult to get rid of.   Mint is happy in partial shade and some types can be grown in almost complete shade (eg under trees).  My Vietnamese mint gets little if any direct sun and it seems pretty content.

How I grow it:

I have mint in 3 separate pots which allows me a constant supply.  I have one plant in a 35cm pot and two plants in 25cm pots and this gives a good supply for a family of four who use a reasonable amount of mint.  Mint grows quickly and easily and as a result can outgrow your pot very quickly – there are two solutions to this: use it regularly and divide it regularly.  Fertilising with liquid fertiliser on a monthly basis also seems to help.   Even if you aren’t using the mint the plants seem to respond well to regular trims to ensure new growth.  In fact if you have a really tatty looking mint plant with lots of old leaves and a straggly habit then a good solution is often to cut all the shoots at pretty much ground level and give it a bit of weak liquid fertiliser.  The roots should reshoot ensuring nice new growth and the plant should revive really well.  This seems to work for all kinds of mint including Vietnamese mint as well as the European varieties.

The mint in the picture below is getting a bit straggly, the older leaves are yellowing a bit and the new leaves coming through are fairly small.  Time for a trim and a feed.

After its trim:

There is a wide range mint varieties available.  I have grown a number from time to time including chocolate and spearmint but now just grow two; Vietnamese mint and what is generally referred to as either ‘mint’ or ‘culinary mint’.  The reason I only grow two is simple – they are quite different and I believe they have the best flavour and there are few dishes using mint that can’t be made with either of these two.

I divide my plants at least once a year – usually in early spring although sometimes they need to be divided in summer as well.  Divide individuals pots at different times to allow freshly divided plants a brief rest to recover after division.   To divide a mint plant simply remove the plant from the pot and chop through the roots retaining about half the roots with leaves attached to replant and discard the other half.  Alternatively use the other half to create more plants.  Pretty much any piece of root has the potential to become a new plant.

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