Posted on 21 July 2008 by urbangardencasual.com

Herbs In The Garden: Mint

By Cindy Haas

Mint is one of my favorite herbs to grow.

I love to sit outside at night in the middle of summer listening to the crickets and watching the stars.

The smell of mint still warm from the sun is always a part of that memory, it is a very evocative scent. Because of its strong scent as well as strong flavor, mint has a lot of uses and is a wonderful choice for adding to your herb garden.

Growing Mint

Mint is easy to grow- it can be too easy. Mint will take over a small garden if allowed, and can choke out other plants. However, it thrives in containers, so mint is a good choice for the urban gardener. I have enough room for herbs grown in the ground in my garden but I still choose to grow mint in a large pot.

That way, I can enjoy my mint without worrying that soon, I’ll only be growing mint. If you do decide to be brave and grow it in your ground, remove the bottom from a large pot and sink it most of the way into the ground. Plant the mint inside the bottomless pot and that should mostly contain the enthusiastic mint plant.

Mint needs moist soil and a place in partial shade. However, it will grow in any condition, even in full sun with dry soil. However, to get the best flavor keep the mint damp and protect it from full sun, and you’ll have a thriving plant.

Harvesting Mint

Mint can be used fresh in a variety of foods and drinks, so you can simply cut off as much fresh mint as you need, leaving the rest of the plant to regrow. If you want to dry the plant, cut the entire stem close to the ground, and then tie into small bundles and hang upside down to dry. Alternately you can cut the leaves, spread them on a screen and dry them, leaving the rest of the plant.

Uses

Dried mint can be used in cooking and can make a wonderful herbal tea. You can hang bundles of dried mint in your kitchen cupboards to keep your kitchen sweet-smelling. My favorite way to use mint is fresh in drinks. Here are a couple of recipes which will make any mint lover happy:

Minty fresh lemonade

1 1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup boiling water
1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon peel
1 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 peel from squeezed lemon, not grated
1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves
Mix boiling water with sugar and grated lemon peel. Add whole lemon peel and mint leaves and let sit for 1/2. Strain whole peels out, add fresh lemon juice and serve over ice. Garnish with lemon slice and mint leaf.

Mojitos

2 teaspoons powdered sugar
juice from 1 lime
8-10 fresh mint leaves
1 1/2 oz. rum
club soda
ice

In bottom of tall glass, mix lime juice, mint and sugar. Crush mint into sugar with back of a spoon or better yet, a muddler. Add rum, add ice to glass and fill to the top with club soda. Garnish with mint and lime wedge.

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