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My herb garden is probably the most successful section in my garden mainly because it is full of easy to grow plants. One of these is mint.
Mint can be grown from seed, purchased as a small plant from the garden centre or found as a small plant in the supermarket. I would recommend growing it from seed as seeds are cheap to buy and easy to grow. I start mine in a small pot indoors on my kitchen windowsill and move them outdoors once the risk of frost has passed. I always keep mine potted rather than adding it to my herb bed as it spreads rapidly and is prone to taking over! Keeping it in a pot either indoors or outside allows you to keep it under control more easily.
Once established a mint plant is very easy to look after. Just keep it watered if the weather is hot and it will thrive. It will also have much more flavour than a packet of fresh mint purchased in the supermarket.
Picking fresh mint from the garden is such a pleasure. The fragrance hits you immediately that it is picked. I mainly use my mint for making mint sauce, adding to cous cous salad or using it in drinks. Freshly picked mint in a mojito is amazing. I also use it to flavour my drinking water with a slice of cucumber. This simple combination adds a zingy freshness which I love. It is an extremely versatile herb with many cooking uses which I don't have space to cover here!
In summary, mint is easy to grow and maintain, can be kept indoors or outside and is a very versatile cooking herb. Highly recommended as long as you take care not to let it take over your garden.
I use herbs a lot in cooking so I decided to try growing my own and have been growing them very successfully for the past year. You can grow herbs outside but I have found it easier to just grow mine in pots and I now have a little miniature herb garden which I grow in my kitchen.
One of the herbs that I was determined to grow myself is fresh mint as it is something that I buy a lot of so it would save me money and besides mint is always best when it is freshly cut.
Because I use mint so often I actually have a few different pots of it growing because I can’t get enough of it. I would probably be better growing it in the garden but I just don’t have the room for it.
You can either grow mint from seeds or buy a small plant from the garden centre. I actually have both and growing it from seed was painless and pretty easy. I was surprised with just how easy it was to grow the mint from seed in a pot the first time.
I just got a large well drained pot and filled it with soil and then sowed the seeds. I then used a plastic bag to cover the seeds until they germinated and then it got transferred to my windowsill in the sun to continue to grow. It was so easy and painless and the mint grew fantastically well with no special treatment needed. I was a bit worried when I first grew it that it would just die but it absolutely thrived in the pot on the windowsill and grew really large. The best thing about it is that it continues to regrow even after you have picked the leaves.
Mint is a really good and easy herb to start with if you are interested in growing your own as it takes very little maintenance and upkeep other than the occasional watering and it is a herb that has so many used in cooking. It can be used in teas, alcoholic drinks, salads, cooking and even just for chewing to freshen your breath.
I love growing mint and although it's not something I have on the go all the time it's a plant I come back to time and time again when I'm looking for something easy but useful to grow. When I'm not growing mint myself I rely on the pots of living herbs available from the supermarkets but it's just not the same as going out into the garden and clipping off some fresh mint from a proper plant rather than the tiny-rooted living herbs which always smell wonderful but lack flavour.
I grow my mint from seed and usually pick up a packet of 200 seeds in the garden centre, I use a few of these myself then pass on what's over to my mum who uses what she needs and passes any extras on to someone else. This works well as I hate coming back to opened packets of seeds a year later and never quite being sure whether the seeds will work after such a long gap or if I'm wasting my time planting them.
I start my mint plants off in small pots on the window sill and don't transfer them outside until the weather has warmed up and any chance of frost has disappeared, this can sometimes be as late as the beginning of April but with TLC they can thrive just as well inside as outside.
I always grow my mint in troughs because it spreads so easily and I don't want the bother of having to keep a close eye on it to avoid the mint taking over the garden, I love the way I can put minimal plants in a trough yet in a couple of months time it will have spread all over the trough and be hanging down the side probably too!
Once the mint plants are outside you don't really need to do much other than keep them watered the same as any of your other outdoor plants, if we're having rainfall that's all the mint needs and only if we have a dry couple of days do you need to water them - this herb will thrive when watered in rain water so definitely worth popping a container outside and collecting some rain, obviously any rainfall will also fall on the plant but it's funny plants never seem to become over-watered with rain water yet a few drops too much out of the hosepipe can cause flora-death!!!
Simply pinch the mint leaves off as you need them; add them to stocks and gravies, make your own mint sauce or chop the leaves and use them to create a tasty (and fresh!) flavouring for a joint of lamb - mint is bizarrely versatile, try it on anything you fancy!
Mint grows wild in the UK, and is often overlooked for it's culinary uses. There's more to mint than mint sauce with lamb; there are so many different cultivated varieties available now that its usefulness in the kitchen has spread as much as the plant itself spreads, if left unchecked.
Thought to originate from the Mediterranean and Middle East areas, mint has been used for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks recognised that mint had medicinal properties and used to wear sprigs of it on their clothes to make them feel invigorated.
These days mint is used in cooking, perfumes, soaps and shampoos, medicine, insecticides and aromatherapy.
GROWING YOUR OWN
Mint is a bully, a thug, a hooligan. If you have it in your garden and haven't taken steps to stop its spread then pretty soon you will have nothing but mint growing. It spreads by sending underground runners out which pop up all over the place, and can also spread by seed but the seeds can be erratic in their germination and don't always produce a "true" offspring.
The best way to grow mint is to take some plants (including those all important roots) from a friend or neighbour and transplant into your own garden. To stop the roots spreading, the best way is to either grow it in a pot, or, if you sink a large pot into a soil border it can be grown amongst other plants without it spreading as you have constricted the roots.
I've tried growing mint from seed and haven't had much of a return - when they do actually grow they're not always what it says on the packet as they tend to revert to their wild form. I think this is why most mint seed packets have around a thousand seeds in them.
There are all sorts of types of mint that clever people with white coats and green fingers have cultivated, ranging from apple scented mint, chocolate, ginger, black pepper, spearmint, banana, pineapple and lemon flavoured mint. All in all, there are roughly about 50 types of mint available in the UK, with many more worldwide.
Once established, it can be pretty much left alone and doesn't require much in the way of fancy care. The leaves can be harvested whenever, but they will die back to ground level over winter. When this happens, don't despair - they will grow back when the weather gets warmer.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Mint attracts whiteflies, which in turn attract ladybirds to eat them. Ladybirds will also eat greenflies and other aphids so it's quite useful as a sacrificial plant. Mint can be affected by rust disease, which looks like red spots underneath the leaves. If left, rust will kill off your mint plants, so remove any affected leaves straight away - don't add them to your compost heap but burn them instead. If a mint plant has rust really badly, then cut the plant down to ground level. It should grow back with healthy unaffected leaves.
Whole books have been written on the uses for mint, so I'll try to be brief and just cover the main culinary uses. You can make mint tea by steeping a few sprigs of mint in boiling water then sweetening with honey - I've had this in central Asia and can honestly say it blew my mind - it was so sweet and aromatic and knocked the spots off our "English cuppa". The country where I drank it also lightly flavoured it with cardamom and cloves - most people have jars of these in a spice rack in our homes in the UK so give it a try.
Mint jelly is more of a thin runny jam, made like a jam but used as more than just jam on toast. It goes brilliantly as a substitute for apple or cranberry sauce with meats, and can be used as the base for mint flavoured stocks / soups.
Have you ever tried wrapping a small mint leaf around a raspberry or strawberry - the flavours work really well. We do this, and we also add a small amount of chopped mint leaves to fruit salads.
Mint dries very well if hung in a dark kitchen corner, and also freezes well too. Before you freeze, wash the leaves to remove any little bugs then either cut off the leaves into food bags or chop and add to an ice cube tray with a drop of water in each cube hole. Store dried mint in a dark airtight jar.
Mint has many medicinal properties - it is a decongestant, an antiseptic, it aids digestion, contains antioxidants which keep cells healthy and reduces the risk of cancers, freshens the breath and has a cooling effect on insect bites when rubbed onto the skin. I suppose mint is worth the hassle of trying to stop it from spreading when you consider how many uses and benefits it has.
I wouldn't recommend growing from seed, buy a plant from a garden centre (they are relatively cheap to buy in this way) for an instant mint fix in your garden. I know I look a bit weird when I do this, but try rubbing a leaf between your fingers then smelling them - it's gorgeous!
This is a review of mint, a hardy little plant that is great to grow, and really needs a minimal amount of attention. I originally bought my mint plants from seeds, getting around 100 or so of them with some parsley, thyme, corriander seeds all for £1.20!
The seeds appear very small, and look similar to the sorts of seeds that you can sometimes see on bread, that sort of black/grey/puirple appearence.
I planted said seeds in pots containing ordinary multipurpose composte, and orginally place them in the greenhouse. Once little shoots started to appear (which only took 2-3 days in m case!), I transfered to pots outside.
The plants then took hold very quickly, and they are described as being very "invasive". Therefore I do not recomend that you place them in a place where you have other prized plants. These would be ideal plants for that bit of garden you do not know what to do with. And it may be worth putting some sort of a partition around the plants to stop them overgrowing if you do not want them too.
Whats nice about this plant is that you can pick the leaves when it suits you (within reason), and they are not too heavily infested with bugs (unlike some rocket leaves which i planted, which gave the catapillars a delcious meal but sadly i got none!
U haven't really cared very much for my mint leaves in the last 8 months, but I went out this morning to have a look at how they are doing for this review (its just spring now), and the new plants are already starting to grow, and i even harvested about 4 small leaves.
These plants are really easy to grow, they literally grow like weeds. If you just want a plant that smells nice, and you can eat, with minimal care, this is the plant for you. I would also recommend it for children as well, as I am sure they could take good care of it, and will probably enjoy picking the leaves etc., as well as the plant being cheap incase the child changes their mind and decides they do not want to care for it anymore.
So in summary, a very easy to keep plant but its very invasive, so be careful not to let it overrun your garden. Can grow in less than favourable conditions.
Recently I did a review about growing your own chives and explained just how easy it was to do so, I wouldn't say I was green fingered at all. With my husband being the keen gardener that he is, I suppose I have taken more of an interest in the garden too, particularly when it comes to his vegetable plots and herb pots, the latter of which I have got more involved in.
Many people would describe Mint as a classic English herb and certainly it has plenty of uses. I make use of it by shredding it finely over green vegetables, and my husband loves having lemonade with fresh mint in the warm weather. My mother in law grows it and makes some yummy mint sauce as well, though I haven't been that adventurous to try that myself. The smell of fresh mint is so nice, that it could also simply be picked and brought inside in a little vase or amongst a flower display.
Although mint is relatively easy to grow, which is why I am willing to help with it, it can become a bit of a nightmare if left to its own devices and spread wildly everywhere, and end up covered in awful mildew. If you look after it however it shouldn't come to this. Planting it in a pot should obviously reduce the spread of this herb.
Mint is a bit like chives in that you can cut it back in the autumn and it will sprout again the following Spring, although you would be advised to throw away the old soil, as mint uses up the nutrients in the soil quickly. New mint leaves should start to appear in mid Spring again, although like all plants this is subject to weather conditions. It isn't necessary to cut back the flowers that grow with it, as they encourage bees and butterflies in the garden. This herb needs to be watered frequently, particularly when in a dry spell of weather, as well as giving it some liquid plant food every one to two weeks during the growing season. If you would rather not have any flowers forming on your mint, as long as you use the leaves regularly this shouldn't be an issue, and again, like a lot of herbs, the more you use at them, the more they will come.
There are several popular varieties of mint herbs for growing, such as spearmint, eau de cologne mint and apple mint. It is the latter of these which we grow in our garden, and the leaves have a somewhat furry texture around the edges. This particular variety is recommended for those wanting to use it on their vegetables or for making mint sauce, due to its flavour.
All in all, just like the chives, growing mint is pretty easy and you really don't need to be green fingered at all, as there isn't much that can go wrong with it, unless you leave it completely unattended or unused, and then you will have to deal with an unruly spread of it, particularly if planted in the garden, rather than a pot. I probably don't use this herb just as much as the chives, but I still find it very useful for adding flavour to the likes of peas or green beans and who knows some day I might build up the courage to attempt some mint sauce.
There are lots of varieties of mint, or Mentha as the plant genus is known. Spearmint is provably one of the most common varieties, and you'll probably have had something spearmint flavoured - perhaps toothpaste or breath mints, or even a polo.
The name Mentha, like many plant names has a mythological association. Minthe was a Nymph, who attracted the love of Pluto, much to the chagrin of his jealous wife, Prosperine . In fact, Prosperine was so jealous, she transformed Minthe into a humble plant. Although Pluto struggled to change her back, he did not succeed, so instead he gave Minthe a lovely scent, so that when the leaves were crushed underfoot, people would take note. Over time, the name evolved into Mentha .
My mint plant started as a small plant, no bigger than four or five inches, purchased from a garden centre for about a pound . I planted it into partially shaded moist soil - and pretty much left it alone after that . Mind spreads through its root network - and boy, does it spread . My tiny little plant after three years is now dangerously close to becoming a hedge, not that I mind at all - it releases a lovely scent into the garden, and its bright, jagged edged leaves keep my garden looking green .
However, because it does tend to spread so well, mint can kill other plants - I used to have some parsley and thyme, but the mint surrounded them, blocking off a lot of their sunlight .
I've since moved them, and they have recovered, but it's worth bearing in mind if you do plan on planting mint . Plants grow to around 2 feet in height, with small clusters of flowers in white pink and lilac. They are perennial, so can last for a long time, however the stems can become a bit woody after a while, but this is easily solved by removing older sections of the plant .
Spearmint has a number of used, not just in food, but in medicine too . Pliny once said 'It will not suffer milk to cruddle in the stomach, and therefore it is put in milk that is drunke, lest those that drinke thereof should be strangled.' - in his day, mint was mixed in with milk to help keep it fresh.
Its also very commonly used as a digestive aid. In Roman times, tables were scrubbed down with mint leaves before food was placed on them, and meals were finished off with a sprig of fresh mint to aid digestion, and of course freshen the breath . Mint is still used in this way today .
In medieval times, it was also popular as a strewing herb, laid over the floors of rooms in great houses with rushes instead of a carpet . It being trodden on would of course release fresh minty aromas into the air, freshening up a room instantly, something that must surely have been very useful in the days when regular bathing was still considered dangerous and likely to lead to illness, and people must have been very whiffy.
Native Americans also used mint to prevent against colds and congestion - again, a use that has carried on to this day, with many cough sweets and decongestants containing Menthol, extracted from mint .
Mint also has some properties in helping to keep wounds clean - it was used in poultices spread on injured areas to clear infection and to keep wounds clean , and also commonly applied to stings to soothe and cool them . Again, this is a practice carried on today - I'm sure many of us have at some point used Deep Heat, Deep Freeze, or Tiger Balm - all of which have menthol as an active ingredient, and help relax muscles and soothe aches and pains . Many of the women reading this will have also used toiletries containing mint such as toners and moisturisers .
Of course, the majority of us who grow mint probably do so to use it in cooking - it is of course excellent in a mint sauce served with lamb, and chopped finely into a potato salad . Mint can be used fresh for this, with leaves being good to harvest for at least six months of the year . You can of course dry your own mint for use during winter when fresh leaves are not so available - simply tie leaves in bunches and hang in a cool place to dry, then store in an airtight container.
Overall, Mint is an excellent herb to grow - it takes care of itself pretty much, and grows at great speed, meaning you'll have plenty of leaves available for whatever you wish to use them for . Plants are very cheap from garden centres, at around a £1 each . While I have focused on spearmint in this review , there are many other varieties, including peppermint, lemon mint, and even a chocolate mint.
I heartily recommend planting some of this in your garden!
Mint is a brilliant plant to have in the garden. However it must be treated with a bit of consideration.
The mint plant is very hardy - and you will struggle to get rid of it once it is planted - so don't plant it somewhere that you may want to plant soemthing else there in a few years time. Secondly the mint plant is very keen on spreading itself wherever it can so its roots are very long and can travel over huge distances in the garden. To counter act both of these issues - but predominately the latter put the mint plant in a bucket when you plant it - and old one will do fine but not one that has lots of holes in it for the roots to creep out.
Make sure you leave the lip of the bucket slightly above the top level of the soil so that you know where it is and also so that it can't spread too easily over the surface of the soil.
There are lots of reviews on the site with things to do with mint - I thought I'd just pass on my tips for keeping it under control, but my favourite use of mint is still the most basic - I don't think you can beat mint sauce, new potatoes and roast lamb (unless you're my husband who hates vinegar) - does anyone out there have a recipe for mint sauce that doesn't use vinegar and still tastes great???
Mint is my favourite herb, I love to rub the leaves and smell the fragrant aroma, picking fresh mint from the garden and adding to a pan new potatoes, emits such a lovely smell that reminds me of summer. It is so easy to grow, in fact it is very hard to get rid of it in the garden so be careful where you plant it as it will take over the garden.
For gardeners it is a hardy perennial and will do well in both sunny and shady parts of the garden and also thrives in pots, which is where I now grow it. There are three main types that people grow in their gardens the Pennyroyal mint, Peppermint and Spearmint, but actually there are over 3,500 species!
Mint can be bought in small pots and planted in to a larger pot or the garden or grown from seed, I prefer buying a pot as it means you can soon start picking it for use. It is easy to grow from breaking off a bit with a root and transplanting it. It is one of those plants that anyone can grow as it doesn't need much attention, although if grown in a pot it will need watering should we have a hot dry summer - in other words it doesn't need any attention as we rarely have a hot dry summer! When you see flowers appearing these although pretty should be picked out as it stops the leaves growing. Occasionally orange marks appear on the underside of the leaves, this is called rust and the leaves should be removed and if possible burned to destroy it. Not many other diseases seem to affect mint though.
I pick or cut off pieces of mint as needed, it is better to pick from the top of the plant as this makes it grow bushier.
Towards the end of the summer I usually pick most of the leaves and make mint jelly to use throughout the winter with Roast Lamb, although it means making a jelly and is time consuming it tastes so much better than bought mint jelly. Leaves can also be dried and sealed in a jar or frozen to use later, it is best to pick in the early morning when the oils are strongest.
Mint is used for lots of everyday things, most people use mint toothpaste, suck mints, chew gum, some drink mint tea and also many enjoy mint ice cream or a lovely cool liqueur. Dried mint makes lovely refreshing tea, steep 1 or 2 teaspoons in a cup of boiling water. Add fresh mint when cooking fresh or frozen peas and add mint to fruit punch and it always looks good as a garnish for desserts especially when using strawberries. Mix chopped mint with yogurt as a refreshing dish called tzatziki, the Greek cousin of raita.
And did you know Mint was famous in Mythology, known then as "Minthe" who was a nymph and Pluto's lover. When Persephone his wife found out she was angry and turned Minthe into a lowly plant, to be trod upon. Pluto gave Minthe a sweet scent when her leaves were stepped on.
And lastly here is a quick recipe using mint.
1kg fresh or frozen peas
10 mint leaves (+ a few to garnish)
200ml chicken stock
2 tsp rock salt
Salt and freshly-ground pepper
Cook the peas in 200ml boiling stock with salt for around 3 minutes (if you're using frozen peas, don't defrost them, just cook for 1 minute longer).
Drain and set aside the cooking juice. Run the peas under the cold tap to cool them and then mix with the mint leaves, cream and half the cooking juice.
Add the cooking juice bit by bit until you get the consistency you want.
Serve in bowls, season and garnish.
Mint is a really useful herb to grow in your garden or patio and adds a subtle flavour to meals.
Mint has a genus of around twenty five species, but in fact there are hundreds of different varieties. most of us think of mint as a herb that we only use in cooking when in fact it can be quite an attractive plant in it`s own right.
Mint in general likes a cool shady spot in the garden and it will flourish given the right conditions. Many of us have at some point made the mistake of planting a sprig and ending up with a patch that has grown out of control.
I have often grown my mint in a large terracotta pot, this keeps the plant at bay and if the pot is well situated it can be an ideal way of attaining a decent crop. If it looks as though a frost may be in the offing then move the pot closer to the wall or fence to protect the mint.
A tiny pot of mint can usually be purchased for very little at the local garden centre and when the night frosts have all finished then it is safe to plant the mint either directly into the ground or into that large planter.
The mint plant loves to have moist roots, so a handful of mulch at the top of the root area helps the roots keep moist, at the end of the season the mint plant will appreciate being fed a couple of spoonfuls of fertiliser or bonemeal too.
Mint is by no means labour intensive, once it has established then there is little to do to it. Make sure that when the flowers start to appear that you just tweak them off, if you don`t this stunts the growth for the following season. Rust is the only disease that mint is highly susceptible to, if you spot any rust on the plant then it may well be time to consider spraying it with a specially formulated chemical that will hopefully eradicate the rust.
The Spearmint plant and the Alpine mint bush are among two of the most common garden varieties. I love the plant when the leaves are young and lush green, mint leaves always remind me of a miniature nettle leaf.
The mint leaf has that same serrated edge as the nettle leaf.
I have a pot sat on the back patio that is filled with fragrant mint, I suppose I should take scissors to cut it but I prefer to just nip the sprigs off using my fingertips, it leaves my hands fresh and fragrant.
Say the word `Mint` and most will follow on by saying Roast Lamb!
I make my mint sauce by picking some healthy preferably bright green leaves and then I wash them under the tap.
Using the chopping board I take my sharp knife and finely chop the leaves, then put the chopped leaves into a sauce boat or a small dish and add some sugar, finally add sufficient vinegar to make the sauce a good pouring consistency.
New potatoes taste wonderful if they have a couple of sprigs of mint added to the water when they are boiling.
But for many hundreds of years mint has been renowned for its medicinal purposes, excellent for the digestive system in the form of mint tea.
Mint and rosemary chopped and then mixed with vinegar applied to the hair before the final rinse is helpful in combating dandruff.
Mint oil rubbed into the skin can help with arthritic or joint pain, I often buy the Other Half a small bottle from Holland and Barrett. (£4.30 for 10mls)
Mint tea is enjoyed by many, unfortunately I am not too keen.
So for medicinal purposes, cooking, in drinks, on salads and for garnishing Mint is a very useful little plant.
Mint is that common garden herb with a multitude of uses for recipes, flavourings and air fresheners etc. Mint is originally a native plant of the Mediterranean and West Asia and the most popular and useful varieties used in the UK today are spearmint and peppermint.
Spearmint and peppermint are quite hardy plants to grow and will withstand many climatic conditions. It usually flourishes in full sunlight but is capable of holding out well in shaded areas. However, it is always important to maintain moisture and well drained soil. One of the many problems with growing mint in your garden is that it can spread and take over the place. This is one reason why many people prefer to grow it in pots.
I've heard that mint kept in the kitchen will help to keep the flies away. Obviously these don't include the white fly which is a pest to the plant. If you do get an infestation of these it is best to remove them with the help of an organic spray.
As an essential oil, a few drops of peppermint in your bath will relax, freshen and enliven the senses after a long day on the farm or working out in the gym. A sprig of mint tied under each armpit will help those suffering with body odour. Mint is often used as an effective treatment for such common ailments as indigestion, flatulence and constipation. As I never suffer from such ailments I am unable to confirm this.
Peppermint and Spearmint are the two best known of the mints but there are literally hundreds of varieties, due to the fact that they form natural hybrids with each other. Spearmint is thought to be the oldest and is the one referred to in older writings, and all mints were indeed considered to be one and the same up until 1696 when British botanist John Ray did the research to differentiate them.
Spearmint is a perennial that reaches about two feet and spreads through underground runners, it loves sunlight, well drained soil and flowers in small white, pink or lilac whorls in midsummer. Most mints are similar in look, varying in size and dimension but retaining similar qualities. The one problem with garden mints is that they are prone to take over and its a good idea to grow them in pots, either free standing or sunken into the ground to prevent this. Mints will become woody after a number of years but as they grow so rapidly it is easy to remove older plants and just replace them with fresh blood, as it were. Most mints have common qualities and so the information contained here is applicable to all varieties. Variations on a theme include Watermint, a purple flowered plant that as its name suggests grows in wet ground, Gingermint a golden variegated variety with a pungent ginger aroma, and the list is almost endless.
Have you ever had an after dinner mint, of course its a common tradition, but did you know that it actually reflects the ancient custom of feasts concluding with a sprig of mint which acts as a stomach soother and an aid to digestion. This property was first used in ancient Egypt and from there it spread to Palestine where it was considered so useful that it was an accepted item to use as a tax payment. Jesus even scolds the Pharisees in Luke (11:39) "you pay tithes of mint and rue...but have no care for justice and the love of God." From the Holy Land, mint spread to Greece where its modern name was formed. Pluto, god of the dead, fell in love with the nymph Minthe. Plutos wife, Persephone, in a fit of jealousy turned her into a plant and her lover god gave her a fragrant aroma. Minthe evolved into Mentha and the name remained in its latin label and as the basis of the word Menthol.
Greek and Roman homemakers added mint to milk to prevent spoilage and the naturalists and physicians of the time recommended it for a wide range of ailments from hiccups to leprosy. In the ancient far east it was used as a tonic for digestion as well as a treatment for colds and fevers. The middle ages saw the usual strange recommendations being applied to the plant including as being used to help against the "biting of a mad dog". When colonists arrived in America they found Indians using their native mints as a curative against chest congestion and pneumonia, the new arrival of settlers brought the Old World mints with them and the plants went wild.
Today mint is used in a number of areas. Its age old reputation of a digestive aid is borne out by modern research, the Menthol contained within soothes stomach lining and digestive tract as well as preventing stomach ulcers. Its anaesthetic qualities are used in many modern skin creams, a property that the Eclectics of the late 19th century were only too well aware. If you associate mint with only one thing it is as a decongestant, it is used in nasal relief and as a vapour rub, and is approved by the major medical organisations. Lesser known properties include its ability to kill bacteria and aid in the healing of wounds and abrasions, as well as peppermint in particular being an aid to promote menstruation.
Mint is also widely used in culinary circles. Mint Julep can be easily made by mixing 1 measure of brandy, half a tablespoon of castor sugar, I table spoon of soda water, four sprigs of mint and lots of crushed ice. For the non-drinkers mint tea is a great and pungent drink and mint added to ice cream is always a winner.
So we have an age old herbal remedy that grows easily with little attention from the gardener, is useful for its curative properties and tastes great, what more do you need in your garden.
Catnip, or Nepeta cataria, to give it its scientific name, is well known for one thing: cats get high on it.
How to grow it
Catnip is a perennial herb, which is a member of the mint family. The perennial part means that it will grow back each year if the winter is not too severe. Start off by buying a packet of catnip seeds from your local garden centre and sow them outdoors in the early spring in a sunny spot. Make sure you get ordinary catnip, rather than one of the ornamental varieties as these just wont get your pussy high. Once they germinate, thin the plants out to leave at least a foot between them, as these plants are fairly bushy and can grow to around 3 feet tall. You may prefer to grow it in pots on the patio, which is what I do, as its invasive. Its an attractive plant, with light green, scalloped leaves and bluish flowers in mid-summer. Its also fairly robust until the cats discover it
What it does to cats
Dried catnip is often used to stuff cat toys, and anyone who owns a cat will probably know the hilarious response that they have to this stuff. The active ingredient is nepetalactone, which appears to be a feline euphoric / aphrodisiac. Its the actual smell than triggers a response, not ingestion. You can also buy catnip essential oil as a spray, and I treat my cats to a regular squirt on their scratching post to keep them off the furniture. This sends them into total ecstasy, and they start rubbing their heads against the post as though their lives depended on it. Then they revert to some kitten-type boisterous play, before stretching out on the floor with glazed eyes and a slight drool to sleep it off. Allegedly some cats do not respond to catnip, but I personally have never known one.
Catnip has a few human uses, culinary, medicinal and agricultural. It can be used sparingly in salads, and can be drunk as a tea. In fact, Catnip tea was the tea of choice before Chinese tea became available.
Taken as a tea, Catnip is said to be good for coughs, colds, catarrh, and to promote sleep. Pregnant women should not use it unless possibly in childbirth - as it stimulates the uterus. It can be used as a bath herb for stress, colic and teething; as a compress or poultice for pain, sprains, bruises and insect bites or as a salve for haemorrhoids. I have not personally tried the last one.
Its use as a natural insecticide is also being investigated.
How to harvest and store it
Most commercially produced catnip is simply the whole plant ground up, but if you want the good stuff for kitty, then its worth knowing that nepetalactone is concentrated in the leaves. Dry the cut plant by hanging it upside down in a bag, then crumble the leaves and store in an airtight jar or plastic bag resealable freezer bags are great. Then your feline friend can have a little lift all through the winter :-)
Mint is one of the most useful herbs in my herb garden, it's on of the plants I couldn't do without. there are so many type of mint too. Pineapple mint, which has a pleasant flavour and it good to add to the summer punches or fruit salads. Apple mint has a slight flavour of apples. Black peppermint has a very strong fiery flavour, this is the herb that is used in toothpaste and liqueurs. Lemon mint well I like this one its refreshing flavour adds a like bite to salads and is very good with grilled fish. Moroccan mint, another of my favourites this is great for making mint tea or just chewing a leaf to freshen your breath. Curled spearmint this variety has a strong flavour and can also be used for mint tea. Ginger mint is a bit spicy and goes well with black olives and feta cheese and bread. Tashkent spearmint has a concentrated flavour and is excellent for adding extra flavour to chutney, especially chillies and green mango chutneys. On the whole mint is quite an essential part of my diet, it helps to relax me by drinking a cup of mint tea and is very good for the digestive system. Spearmint it the most common mint grown, but all the other varieties can be bought cheaply at the garden centre or bootsales, which I find the best place to find the cheapest herbs and plants. A mint plant will spread quickly over your garden as it throws runners underground to send shoots up, it should be divided often and re-planted or potted. Quite short roots will produce little plants and these can be obtained in winter and potted or put in boxes, then kept in a warm geenhouse, or in full light on your windowsill, these will then throw shoots and can be kept in pots in the kitchen for cooking or making tea with or planted outside in your herb garden. Mint is also helpful for the treatment of digestive discomfort like indegestion, flatulence. constipation and nausea. Peppermint is also a good tonic as it help
s to clerar the mind and helps with the symptoms of flu and colds. A few drops of peppermint oil in your bath water will relax, refreshen and revitalise you after a long day at work. I wouldn't be without this wonderful little herb.
It occurred to me today that although I have been a member of Dooyoo for many moons, there are some categories which I have written very little in and others which I have ignored completely. So although I am hardly an expert here I am looking to redress the balance a little...well write one op. at least. So I wandered in here to the "House and Garden" category and chose mint to write about. I'm sure you'll all be enthralled. ;o) Mint is of course a common garden herb which any gardener will either see as a huge bonus to have in their garden or a pain in the butt because left untended it does tend to take over somewhat. That said, if you have mint in your garden you are always guaranteed a sweet, fresh smelling aroma in that particular corner and a lovely addition to a rather large number of culinary dishes so I'd rather have it than be without it. Its a native plant to the Mediterranean, and Western Asia and is actually a little more interesting than you might think. You see not only does it have a multitude of uses, but it also has its very own part in Greek Mythology as well. They used it to cure hiccoughs but their legends claim that Minthe, a nymph, angered Pluto's wife Persophone(they were doing the naughty as gods and nymphs are apt to do) to the point where she zapped her into being a plant for mankind to step on. Pluto was unable to break the curse and instead softened it by giving Minthe a sweet smelling aroma...not much of an exchange if you ask me, but thats where mint was born. See? Not all that boring so far. There are however over 30 varieties of mint and these varieties are all quite capable of interbreeding so that it becomes very difficult to tell them apart - even to the experts apparently. This becomes something of a problem because of the many different kinds of mint, there are only a few which you are really going to want to have knocking around in your garden. These would include spe
armint, peppermint, garden mint, chocolate mint and pineapple mint, but I'm sure there are others, I am no expert here believe me. I would research how best to grow the stuff, but to be honest, it seems more of a problem to get it to STOP growing than to make it grow and its really easy to transplant as well so I doubt anyone will have a problem getting it started. Mint has many uses but in this house it only gets used in pepping up cooked vegetables and giving an extra kick to omelettes. If you steam vegetables then the addition of mint really gives them a little extra life. Other uses include adding to tea, salads and jellies apparently although its never something I have tried...well not knowingly anyway. I'm sure there are lots of other recipes and uses(it keeps away ants and fleas and even controls mice too apparently) out there but there isn't space to list them all, a quick search on Google will no doubt pull up the odd million of them for your perusal anyway. So there you go, a little bit of info. on mint. Like I said, I am no expert on the subject(thankfully) but I would really recommend shoving some in a corner of the garden somewhere and using it in your cooking to bring vegetables alive. You don't need to be a gardener, it takes care of itself more than well enough and your dinners will be that much tastier because of it.
Mentha is a genus of about 2530 species of flowering plants in the family Lamiaceae, with a subcosmopolitan distribution, seven from Australia, one in North America, and the others from Europe and Asia; several hybrids also occur. They are aromatic perennial herbs, growing to 10120 cm tall, with wide-spreading underground rhizomes and erect, branched stems. The leaves are arranged in opposite pairs, simple oblong to lanceolate, often downy, and with a serrated margin. The flowers are produced in clusters ('verticils') on an erect spike, white to purple, the corolla two-lipped with four subequal lobes, the upper lobe usually the largest. The fruit is a small dry capsule containing 14 seeds.