-- In the Wild -- Mint is must have in gardens & pots
Green Earth Media Group Special to the Courier
This season, easy-to-grow mint is a garden must-have. However, since mints are fast-growing plants that spread rapidly, you need to give them room to grow without getting in the way. Alternately, you can contain them and plant in a pot.
Mint varieties send out runners that spread above and just under the ground, quickly forming large, lush green patches. In the right place, mint makes a sensational, seasonal ground cover. You can also contain mint in tight places such as between pavers of a walkway. Mints also add lovely fragrance to your yard and garden.
Tips for ensuring you have plenty of mint for the remainder of the summer include:
• Pot It -The most popular way to grow mint is in a pot where you can keep it contained and handy near the kitchen for a constant supply of sprigs. It's a good idea to choose a potting mix that retains water to be sure soil stays moist.
• Plant It - In the ground, select a damp area in your garden in either full sun or partial shade. Mint prefers fertile soil with a pH from 6.0 to 7.0. Although mint is plenty vigorous on its own, the plant would appreciate a little fertilizer every few weeks - especially if you harvest frequently. You can also mulch around the plants to keep roots moist.
Plants will die back in dry soil.
Keep plants in check by harvesting the tips regularly and pulling up wayward runners when planted in the garden. Mint's small flowers bloom from June to September; trim these before buds open to keep the plant compact.
Mint has many uses, including as a "Tea Time Remedy." Mint is commonly used in the form of tea as a home remedy to help alleviate stomach pain. Because of its strong, sharp flavor and scent, mint is sometimes used as a mild decongestant for illnesses such as the common cold.
During the Middle Ages, powdered mint leaves were also used to whiten teeth!
When cooking with mint, it's best to use the leaves. Mint stems are tougher than leaves and not as flavorful.
Mint varieties offer tried and true and new and different flavors.
Spearmint is always popular and often used in beverages and jelly. However, this season, try something new like Bonnie Plants Chocolate Mint. It has a delightful minty chocolate flavor, much like the classic Girl Scout cookie. You can use it in beverages, and desserts. If you love the flavor combination of chocolate and mint, you'll want chocolate mint in your garden!
Bonnie Plants Apple Mint and Bonnie Plants Orange Mint are ideal for garnishes, beverages, jellies, sauces and desserts.
For more info and tips on mint and other herbs visit www.bonnieplants.com
Pictured: Orange Mint