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Handy guide to growing mint

Handy guide to growing mint


By Joan Salmon

This perennial is an invasive herb from the family of Lamiaceae and is well known for its sweet aroma. There are several mint scents which dictate the variety name such chocolate mint, pineapple mint, orange mint, and apple mint.

Growing

Mints do best in moist well drained soils thus the need to add organic matter to it. “When the soils are well moist, the leaves get bigger and somewhat thicker. That calls for watering them in the morning on a daily basis,” Susan Bukirwa, a herb grower, shares.

The herb also requires enough sunlight of at least six to eight hours a day, however, in drought times, the leaves tend to shrink. “In very hot times, there is therefore need to avail a shade for the plants lest with time, the plants dry up. More to that, mints require to be watered at least twice or thrice on a daily basis during the dry conditions. During the rainy weather, there is no need to water,” she shares.

Mint also performs well when mulched as it keeps the moisture in, thus reducing on the frequency of watering in dry conditions.

That said, if you desire to have an indoor kitchen garden, Bukirwa says the plant also does well indoors as long it can receive light and enough water. “You may want to place it at the window sill for sunshine,”she advises.

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While mint does not grow tall any higher than one to two feet tall, it forms a bush once set in the right conditions for growth. Being invasive and with the ability to recoup easily even after a dry spell, Maureen Lugudde, a herb grower, says it needs to be controlled, otherwise it out competes other plants thanks to its crawling and fast spreading roots.”

To successfully manage mint, she says it needs to be grown in containers so it will not creep to take over much more than its originally allotted space. “That said, do not confine mints in small tins as these will cause them to dry out very fast. Invest in large containers to reap more and ensure you water it diligently as growth conditions in a tin are different from when it is in a garden,” Lugudde advises.

You ought to prune mint constantly for purposes of multiplication and constant growth. This also reduces the spread of runners that invade other places.

Care

Just like any other plant, Lugudde says mints also die off:

1.  If not taken care of

2. If they are old. For cases of maturity, if some stems are still alive, prune off all the old branches, add a little fertiliser to the plant and it will regenerate.

Mice hate the smell of mint, therefore you can plant it to get rid of them. “However, it is attacked by rust, powdery mildew, leaf spot, and stem rot,” she says

Harvesting

Harvesting regularly is important to maintain flavour as younger leaves have more flavour than the old ones. “Nonetheless, you can harvest stems right before flowering. In case you have lots of mint leaves, you can freeze them for future use,” Bukirwa says.

Propagation

Mints are usually grown from stems and this is easy for beginners. “Get a stem from a friend or vendor and plant it in conducive soils and you are good to start on your mints journey,” Bukirwa shares. They can also root in a glass of water.

Recipe

Mint lemonade

In this hot weather, a glass of mint lemonade will go a long way in quenching your thirst. More to that, the taste is amazing.

Ingredients

● A cup of sugar

● Two cups of fresh mint stems

● Two big lemons

● Two big oranges

● Four rhizomes of ginger

Procedure

In a small pan, add water and clean diced ginger and bring to a boil. Then add sugar for a few more minutes before lowering the heat and subsequently adding mint. Turn off the heat and cover for an hour for the mixture to steep. As you wait, squeeze juice out of the lemons and oranges. Then strain the liquid into a bowl. Add the orange and lemon juice and stir until it is well mixed.

Place it in the refrigerator to cool and enjoy later.



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