Mint is a common perennial and one of the easiest herbs to grow. It’s used frequently in lamb dishes, desserts and cocktails. Known for having a minty smell and flavor, mint can be grow without issue in containers, garden beds or right in the ground. Mint takes almost no effort to learn how to grow and harvest.
There are many different types of mint: spearmint, applemint, peppermint, totally more than 3,500 varieties. Each mint type varies in smell and flavor. Mint is extremely easy to grow, and can take over if you are not careful. If you have never grown mint before this plant is sure to be a fun and easy choice.
Gardening Guide for Growing and Harvesting Mint
Mint grows well outdoors, in direct sunlight. It prefers well-drained fertile soil, although this plant will survive less than ideal planting conditions. Water mint regularly, when the soil seems dry. Do not overwater as this can encourage root rot.
When and How to Plant Mint
To plant seedlings outdoors, be sure they are planted about 18 inches apart from one another. Because mint grows quickly and easily, you may not need to plant more than one or two seedlings. Mint can adapt to most conditions but prefers slightly acidic, fertile soil with full sun. Organic compost is extremely beneficial to mint.
Seeds and seedlings need an average soil temperature of 65-75 degrees Fahrenheit and lots of sunlight in order to germinate and thrive outdoors. It’s always good practice to plant more seeds than you expect to grow.
Mint likes to be planted next to carrots and onions. It does well deterring pests in any garden, and a pot of mint can be placed near any other plant. Mint is extremely low maintenance and can become invasive.
Starting Seeds Indoors
If you live in a cold climate (like I do), you’ll need to start your seeds indoors. Mint seeds need to be started 8 weeks before the last frost.
Planting and Germination
Plant mint seeds in an organic seed starting medium, in a seed tray. It’s important to plant multiple seedlings per cell to ensure that one seedling will survive. Mint seeds some light for germination so be sure not to plant them too deep. They like to be planted about 1/4 inch deep into the soil
Make sure to water from the bottom of the tray. This will prevent the seeds from being displaced. It takes about 2 weeks for mint seeds to sprout. Mint seeds need to be warm in order to germinate (about 75 degrees Fahrenheit). To be sure that it’s warm enough, use a seedling heat mat underneath your seeds.
Growing Mint Seedlings
Once the seeds have germinated, be sure to add a grow light a few inches above your seedlings. This will prevent them from becoming leggy and help them grow faster.
Keep soil damp but not soaked, mint loves fertile, moist, well-drained soil. Seedlings need to be transplanted into larger pots to get big enough for outdoor transplanting.
At this step you can transplant into a larger pot and keep indoors always. Mint is easy to grow in containers and will thrive indoors or out. You could also plant in a seedling pot and prepare them for transplanting outdoors once the weather allows.
Transplanting Mint Seedlings
Seedlings can be planted outdoors once the temperature of the soil consistently reaches 65 degrees Fahrenheit. Mint should be at least 8-10 inches high before being transplanted outdoors.
Seedlings must be hardened off before transplanting. If your seedlings are not hardened, many will likely die from transplant shock.
As stated above be sure to plant them 18 inches apart from one another. This will allow enough room for air circulation and growth.
Basic Maintenance of Mint
Mint will give you plenty of foliage year after year. To maintain your plants during the season, be sure to add compost occasionally and don’t allow the plant to get too dry. Mint is extremely easy to grow and will take over if watered and cared for. Mint can fall pray to mint rust, verticillium wilt and mint anthracnose. Insects such as flea beetles, spider mites and root borers also like to attack mint. Keeping good air circulation will minimize this.
If you live in a cold climate, it’s important to prune the bush back during the fall and cover the plant in mulch before the cold hits. Otherwise, your mint may not make it to the following spring.
In order to maintain and healthy and full plant, pinch off mint flowers before they bloom. This also encourages the herb to grow bushy instead of just growing tall. Mint love organic compost, so be sure to add some in the spring and the fall.
When To Harvest Mint
Mint can be used fresh, frozen and dried. This herb is used in many different cuisines, but it most popular in lamb dishes. This recipe for rack of lamb with mint sauce is delicious.
Remove leaves from the top of the plant throughout the season. Fresh mint can be used in lamb dishes, desserts and beverages. Pruning the top leaves and blooms will encourage growth and a fuller plant.
Rinse the mint leaves will cool water and use as you wish. Store fresh mint in the refrigerator. I usually wrap them in a paper towel or tea towel and place them in a closed jar in the fridge. This will help them stay fresher for longer. Although you’ll need to use them within a week.
Drying mint is a great option for preserving it. Simply lay the leaves in a dark, dry area and leave them be for a couple weeks. Once dried, crush the leaves and place them in an airtight jar.
Adding mint to your garden is an easy option and perfect for beginner gardeners. Learning how to grow and harvest mint will be a skill you use for years to come.
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