Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Mint Green


(Mentha) labiatae. Pernnial.
Applemint: (M.rotundifolia).
Catnip. (Nepeta cataria) Labiatae.
Eau-de-Colonge mint: (M.piperita citrata).
Pennyroyal: (M.pulegium).
Peppermint: (M.piperita officinalis).
Spearmint: (M.spicata, or M.crispa, or M.viridis).
Propagation: cuttings, root division, seed.
Season: spring.
Position: semi-shade to shade.
Soil: rich, moist.
Height: 30-90 cm ( 1-3 feet) according to variety.
Part used: leaves.

The mints are a versatile family, there are a number with pronouncedly different flavours and scents, even though between them there is a strong outward resemblance, except for leave colour. The six listed are easily available varieties, although there are other more rare kinds.
History and mythology:
Mint’s history goes back to Greek mythology and to Biblical times. The Romans introduced it to Britain and it was familiar to Chaucer and Shakespeare. One Greek historian wrote that” “the smell of Mint does stir up the minde and taste to a greed desire of meate.” The Pharisees in the Bible were paid tithes of mint, anise and cumin.

Mints are usually propagated by root division, as even the smallest piece will grow. However, if this is not possible, short stem cuttings taken after the new growth has hardened in late spring can be put straight into the ground, where roots will quickly form. They are best grown in rich, moist soil, semi-shade, but will also grow in poor, sandy soil if the ground is fertilized from time to time. Cut the plants back to ground level in winter. If mint is attacked by rust, the plant must be dug out and burnt, starting again with new stock in a different part of the garden. Mint is not usually propagated by seed because it is small and difficult to harvest. If however, you grow mint from seed, sow in spring in prepared seed boxes, keep moist, and when the plants are large enough plant them out. It is also important to keep mint contained in pots as it does spread and keep different scented mints apart from each other as mint is known to cross over to each other with scents.

Harvesting and processing:
Mints will dry satisfactorily by hanging the leafy stems, cut just before coming into full flower, in bunches in a dry, airy place. Make sure that when the crisp, dried leaves are stripped from their stalks they are kept in an airtight container as this herb does not keep its full aroma and flavour if exposed to the air for long. For freezing, chop fresh leaves finely, mix them with a little water and put them into ice cube trays in the freezer. Sprays of fresh mint may be wrapped in foil, sealed and kept in the deep freeze for some weeks. Mint can be added to butter and frozen. Chop fresh leaves, pound them into softened butter and allow to set in the fridge then freeze.

Mint can be made into mint sauce. Rolled in frying bananas. Mixed into fruit salads and fruit jellies. It can be made into mint julep. And it is customary with green peas. Chopped mint goes with hot, buttered new potatoes, with tomatoes, in some egg dishes, in custards and ice cream.
Spearmint helps prevent bad breath, and is incorporated into herbal toothpastes for this reason. It also helps whiten teeth and condition the gums. A few sprigs of fresh mint in hot bath water is also effective. Mint leaves makes and excellent fragrant addition to pot-pourri and sleep pillows. Spearmint and peppermint are excellent for conditioning oil hair.
Companion planting:
Peppermint in the vegetable garden aids cabbage plants. Planted with stinging nettles increases the oil in peppermint plants. It is also noted planting next to chamomile will lessen the peppermint plant oil but the chamomile itself will have greater oil content. Spearmint is an excellent insect repellent, and will keep butterfly caterpillars, ants, fleas, and sometimes aphis at bay. Spearmint is also reported to repel various rodents. Indoors dried mint leaves placed in drawers and cupboards keeps away moths. All varieties have the reputation for preventing milk from curdling. Sprigs of mint placed in a room will also overcome the smell of stale tobacco.
Herbal warning: Pennyroyal should not be grown around cows as it brings on abortions. Take herbs only if you are safe to do so and the herbs are free from pesticides.
Take as much fresh leaves as you like and wash them. Pull the leaves from the stems and add to hot water ( or cold if making a chilled drink. when making a chilled drink crush the leaves up with your hands to release the mint flavour into the water). Let the leaves steep in the hot water, the water will colour once the leaves have steeped. Use a tea strainer or cloth to strain off the leaves when adding the mint water to cup. Add some honey if preferred. Add some lemon slices.
This tea can be drunk hot or cold. Add ice cubes to make a nice chilled refreshing summer drink .
I hope everyone is having a good day or evening whereever they are.


  1. How thoroughly interesting. BTW, I was weeding at the MIL's yesterday and found a flourishing patch of mint - gorgeous.

    1. Phil,
      That mint can get out of hand if not potted! I'm hoping to do more herbal learning this year and store it in a binder.

  2. The tea sounds good right now in this heat, Shiralee. We have some lemon balm out the front too if you want a cutting. We used to make tea from it a lot years ago.

    1. Nanna Chel,
      It's a refreshing drink. I prefer it has tea.
      If you want to give a cutting I'd love one. Either bring it along to the next simple living workshop or pop it in our mail box (#33). Mister Simba is our door bell btw, so we'll know there's 'mail'.