Mint – the weed that just keeps going

A really good “herb” to have in your garden is mint. The only problem is that mint is a weed!

My definition of “weed” is something that grows where you don’t want it, and is really hard (nearly impossible) to get rid of. If you have any weeds in your garden, you’ll know exactly what I mean.

Planting mint in your garden is riskyAnyway, if there’s one tip I can give you for planting mint is to plant it in a pot. Whether you want it in the ground or not, plant it in a pot that will keep the roots in check. And, make sure that you will be able to see if the roots are growing out of the pot, for example, over the top, or through any holes in the bottom of the pot.

I made the mistake of planting mint in my herb garden, and within a couple of months, the roots had come out the pot, and spread practically EVERYWHERE! I decided to pull the mint out of the ground, and I was surprised to see that this little plant had grown roots as thick as my thumb and about a meter long.

So, PLEASE be careful when planting mint. It is a great plant to have, especially if you want to add it to your food or your home-made ice tea.

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11 thoughts on “Mint – the weed that just keeps going

  1. June Tate

    I plant spearmint and “chocolate” mint in my flowerbeds (Oklahoma, USA). It’s invasive and persistent and every year I have to uproot what feels like miles of it, but it smells so good!

  2. Deco Gecko

    It DOES smell good. I’m going to write up about where we decided to put it so we had more control, AND made it a feature.

    And, coincidentally, we also bought spearmint and “chocolate” mint. Must be all the rage at the moment. :-)

  3. Deco Gecko

    I’m sorry to say, but the only things I can think of are to actually dig it up (you might have to go pretty deep to get all the roots) or use a strong weed killer. The weed killer will kill those areas of your grass as well, but digging up a small section of dead grass MIGHT be easier than digging up as many roots as possible.

    Anybody else have ideas?

    Oh, and please could you let me know what you decide to do and how it goes… It’ll be good knowledge to share.

  4. Pingback: New Attempt at Growing and Containing Mint : Make a good house a GREAT home

  5. Nikki

    Ummm, why not just pull up all the mint (or darn near all of it) every year for harvest? Dry it, powder it, and you have MINT- all year round! Give some to friends, drink it as a tisane…Make an alcohol extract and/or a macerated oil from it and use it medicinally- for a stomach remedy- internal and externally, and a fever reducer. Cook new potatoes using mint as a spice. Freeze some in ice cubes and drink it in water or fruit juice…That never go away thing it does is it’s most beautiful trick, don’t you think? There SO many ways to use it!
    Where it has escaped my garden and grown into the lawn are some of my favorite places for my hot, tired, sweaty bare feet. Even in direct sunlight, there is a cooling feeling to it, and my feet smell so good after a little rub or two against the leaves…bugs don’t seem to bite my feet as much either. :-)
    “Don’t mow it, Grow it!” Although it smells heavenly when it gets mowed, too!

  6. James Post author

    Hi Nikki. Those are all AWESOME ideas. I don’t suppose you want to share a couple of those recipes (whether medicinal or food)? They sound really good :-)

  7. Nikki

    I would be honored to share!

    Harvest the mint that has outgrown its welcome by pulling it up or cutting it at ground level just before it blooms. (I would think you can use the root, but I have never heard of doing so…probably because the aerial parts are so prolific!) (Normal harvesting of a perennial would be to cut the top third of the aerial part.) Cut off the root parts, and wash the leaves in cool water, just as you would any veggie from the grocery store. Shake off excess water, drain dry.

    There are many methods for drying the mint. You can leave it on the stalks and bunch several together. Tie the cut ends tightly and hang upside down out of direct sunlight, in a low moisture area. You can remove the leaves from the stems and dry them on a shallow pan (SINGLE layer) in a LOW oven (180-200 degrees) with the door open for 2-4 hrs. You can dry the leaves in a dehydrator (follow manufacturer’s instructions). They are done when they crumble when you crush one with your hand. There are all sorts of creative ways to dry herbs. I have heard of setting the pan near your computer’s heat output, a dehumidifier’s outlet, setting the pan over a frequently used lamp…use your imagination- just keep them clean!
    When they are dry, check them for mold. Mold is bad, so if you find it, throw the offenders out. Remove them from the stalks, if applicable, at this stage. If possible, keep the leaves whole, as crushing them will release some of their wondrous volatile oils. You can put them in a blender, food processor or the like and powder them, if you prefer.
    Take your dried leaves and put them in ziplock bags (with as much air removed as possible) or a tupperware type container, ceramic crock, or canning jars. Vacuum sealer bags are awesome. They need to be out of direct sunlight. Don’t forget to date them.

    You can also take the freshly washed and chopped leaves and sprinkle them over an ice cube tray, fill the tray the rest of the way with water (or other liquids such as watermelon, orange, lemon, or lime juice, and freeze. These mint cubes are awesome in plain water, but you can also add them to lemonade, orange juice, etc. Be creative! You can also stuff the ice cube trays with the chopped mint and very little water to use the mint in recipes.
    To make your own tisane, put some of the dried leaves in a coffee filter, or “tea ball” and pour boiling water over it. Let steep, add vanilla creamer (ok, that’s just what I do!) and drink. You can pour it over ice and make iced mint tisane, as well. Mint tisane is said to relieve stomach cramps, indigestion, gas, and calm the mind (It’s perfect at about 3:30pm–remember, the school bus comes at 4!). Cool the tisane and soak a towel in it, wring it out a little and, put it on the forehead and it is known to reduce fevers.

    According to the almanac and many old sources, tinctures should be started on a full moon. To make an tincture, use fresh clean leaves, crush them a little and almost fill a clean cjar (with a lid) with them. Pour enough vodka/grain alcohol/white vinegar/distilled water (your choice) over the leaves to completely cover them and a little more. Seal tightly, so it can’t leak or evaporate. I use masking tape and a sharpie marker to put the date and type of tincture on the bottle. Put the jar somewhere dark…basement, usually closed cabinet or closet, paper bag, or cover with a towel. If you started on the full moon, your tincture will be done on the next full moon. :-) Otherwise, it will take about 2 weeks. It’s important to shake the bottle once or twice everyday. I put a reminder in my phone because I kept forgetting! At the end of the two weeks, strain the contents through a clean cheesecloth (cloth diaper–never used-lol- and never bleached!) into a clean dark colored glass bottle/jar (or a canning jar wrapped tightly in a paper bag or painted a dark color). Make sure your hands are “uber” (that’s super, if you don’t have a teenager) clean, or better yet use rubber/vinyl gloves to squeeze the last bit of liquid out of the plant material left and into the new bottle/jar. Tinctures are known to last for a year or two. Label and date the completed tincture.

    What on earth do you do with a mint tincture, you ask?? If you are a drinker, you just made Mint Vodka…giggle. If not, then mint tincture is said to treat neuralgia, palpitations, and for pain relief. It is also a disinfectant. If you used vinegar to make your tincture, you now have the best kitchen/bathroom/wherever cleaner on the planet. And it smells minty fresh instead of the choking odor of vinegar. Although it took a while to make, it’s still cheaper and safer than most cleaning products out there; and most bugs don’t approve of vinegar OR mint. Put it in a spray bottle and go clean something! :-)

    Food recipes?? Oh my goodness, there are so many I could write pages. Mint jelly, mint julep, lamb with mint sauce (that was served on the Titanic!), mint smoothy, new potatoes steamed in butter and mint…I’m becoming very hungry just thinking about it!

    Macerated mint, or mint oil can be used to massage the abdomen for stomach cramps, gas, indigestion, etc. Just don’t massage WHILE you’re drinking the tisane…you’ll get your cup all slimy! I make mine in the crockpot. Clean, DRY (oil and water don’t mix…unless you are going to learn about emulsifiers, I recommend making sure the mint is pretty darn dry before trying to make oil out it) and chop the mint. I usually turn on the crockpot as I’m chopping the mint, and set it in there with no liquid for a little while. When you have the desired amount in the crockpot, add enough oil to cover the mint. I prefer only vegetable oils- coconut is my favorite, but you can use anything from lard to extra virgin (why do those virgins cost so much?? haha) olive oil. Heat on low until your herb is “used up”…that would be crunchy, sometimes clear, and sometimes black appearing. Strain just like you would for the tincture…AFTER the oil is cool! (I wasn’t planning on adding any burn medicine recipes here!!)

    One more idea about what to do with all that mint…plant your squash and/or cucumbers in the middle of the mint patch. Squash bugs and the beetles that try to take your harvest don’t like mint.

    See why I was so shocked you guys wanted to rip it out and toss it?! Sorry, I hadn’t “mint” for this to be such a long answer!!

    (Don’t mow it, grow it!!)

    Hope this is what you wanted, James!

  8. Pingback: Planting Mint where you want it : Make a good house a GREAT home

  9. juliana

    Thanks for this great info! I live in the hot south US and cold mint tea is a staple for me! sometimes I add papaya nectar, but I like it with honey or just plain. Anyway, mint is awesome. I use it as a tea in a spray bottle to freshen the air or on my face (remember, it’s hot here).

    I love your idea to plant squash in it. I lost all 6 of my squash plants this year to squash beetles. I’ll try your idea next year.

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