Magnificent Mint

I say magnificent because there are so many different kinds of mint with so many uses. The more you cut them back the healthier they grow. They always share their love as you crush their gentle leaves so abundantly. I love them all from common garden mint, Mentha, to the exotic spicy Vietnamese mint, Persicaria odorata.

I fell in love with mint all over again on my trip to Saudi Arabia last year. At the local souk, their local market, they were selling bags of dried mint and bundles of fresh mint. The long stems were tied firmly at the cut end to resemble a small broom .This is used to tap / pat the body all over to invigorate. Used to alleviate muscle spasms and aching joints. Try it, it feels magnificent!

 In The Kitchen

My favorite recipe using mint is  ARABIAN SPICED MINT TEA
The many ways I use mint is simply adding chopped mint to salads, fruit salads, steamed vegetables and rice. Add to Ice-cream and chocolate desserts. Sprigs of mint make the perfect garnish. Just try it and taste the lift it gives an ordinary dish. Magnificent!
In the garden
Mint really wants to be a ground cover. The long branches grow upward and then flop over and root, spreading the plant wherever it can reach. The spikes of white or pinkish flowers are attractive, but brief. However, they do attract bees, butterflies and even birds. Most mint plants are hybrids and will not grow true from seed.

When your  mint looks sick?
Mints sometimes get rust (this appears on the underside of the leaves like small orange/ brown spots.) Use an organic fungicide and try to allow plants to dry between watering. By watering first thing in the morning and allowing the water to dry will minimize this occurrence. At first sighting cut all mint back to ground level. Burn this material. Do not add to compost heap. Then cover tips with good rich compost and keep well watered till new shoots appear. Keep a vigilant eye for rust to reappear. Cut back immediately should this occur, cover once again with good compost and water well till new shoots appear. This should have resolved the problem. If it happens again remove and replace the plant. BURN IT. Stressed plants may also be bothered by whitefly (needs more nutrition), spider mites aphids and mealy bugs. Healthy plants seldom suffer these pest infestations.
Where To Plant:
All mints can be grown in shade but will tolerate full sun if kept well watered. Pennyroyal works well in herbal lawns. It will need to be kept mowed, if you plan on walking on them. But this will help control their spread and the scent will make the work more pleasant.
In tiny small neat gardens and patios – plant mint in pots. To minimize hybridization, ( cross pollinating where you end up with a mixed mint and not the true mint variety you planted) plant each variety in a separate pot.

Magnificent Mint
Magnificent Mint

Some of my favorite mints include:

common name Botanical name Popular use Gardening tips for all mints
garden   mint Mentha Mint   sauce
  1. 1.       Keep well   watered
water   M.   aquatica tea
  1. 2.       Feed   generously from early spring
spearmint M.   spicata 3. Easily propagated from root slips   in spring
peppermint   (a hybrid of watermint and spearmint) M.   x  piperita Tea,   medicinal 4. Mint prefers a rich, moist soil with a slightly acidic pH between 6.5   and 7.0.
chocolate M.   piperita f. citrate “Chocolate” deserts 5. Mints grow easily from seed
eau-de-cologne M.   x piperita f. citrate “Lemon” deserts 6. All clippings can be used. Chop   fresh leaves and freeze till required..
pennyroyal M.   puleguim Insect   repellant – especially ants 7. Hard prune mid-season for regrowth
apple M.   suaveolens Mint   Jelly 8. You can also  dry mint by tying in bunches and hanging   upside down in a paper bag for a few days out of direct sunlight.
pineapple M.   suaveolens variegate Least   invasive , good ground cover(variegated) 9.Plant in cool moist conditions
corsican M.   requienii Moss   like creeper ideal for between pavers    and in rock gardens 10. Harvest regularly before the   flowers develop. Pinch off the flower heads to encourage more leaf growth.

Peppermint’s origins are a mystery but it has been around a long time. Dried leaves have been found in the Pyramids in Egypt dating back around 1000 BC.
Other uses include:

• ability to relieve wind, flatulence and bloating
• helpful for muscle spasm
• stimulates secretion of bile
• successfully used for the treatment of irritable bowel syndrome
• used as digestive
• to relieve headaches
• for biliousness.

(Drink fresh infusion of 2 teaspoons fresh leaves or 1 teaspoon dried in one cup boiling water. Drink up to 5 cups a day for one week only).
Consult your health care practitioner if symptoms persist.
CAUTION: Do not use peppermint for children under 5 years
Insect repellant
All mints are helpful insect repellents in the garden and the home
Pennyroyal’s powerful aromatic herb is native to Europe and Western Asia. Has been traditionally used as flea repellant. I have found it extremely helpful for ants.
CAUTION: The essential oil of pennyroyal should not be used on the skin it is highly

So important was mint in biblical times, tithes were paid in mint.

  “But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs,

and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done,

and not to leave the other undone”

Luke 11:42