Mentha spp.

taken from The Georgia Fruit and Vegetable Book by Walter Reeves and Felder Rushing

Mints are easily grown perennial ground covers that are valued as flavorings in teas, ice cream, candies and gum. There are many varieties, each with a distinctive flavor. The most commonly grown are peppermint (Mentha piperita) and spearmint (M. spicata). The plants can reach a height of 1- 2 feet and spread rapidly from the original plant.

Set out started plants whenever they are available during the season. Certain specialty nurseries and garden centers carry them. Doublecheck that the plants are correctly labeled before you take them home.

Most Mint varieties will thrive in full sun (8 to 10 hours per day) or partial shade (filtered sun all day or shade part of the day). Plant them where you can control them because they spread and will eventually invade the rest of the garden, the lawn or your neighbor’s yard. A lined raised bed keeps plants under control very well. The most damaging disease of the mints is verticillium wilt. Do not plant mint where Tomatoes, Potatoes, etc. have been grown because they all carry the disease and infect the soil.

Set out started plants in wellprepared soil. Separate the various types with barriers so they do not spread and grow together or you will not know which one you are harvesting. Some gardeners construct elaborate barriers to help contain mint by using concrete blocks or timbers buried so that the tops are slightly above the soil surface. Space plants 2 feet apart in beds. For most gardeners, 1 or 2 plants of a kind are sufficient.

Care of Mint consists of controlling weeds by pulling them, keeping the soil moist but not wet (about 1 inch of water per week) and restricting the spread of the plants. Commercial growers renew the growth of their plantings by plowing the beds each fall to a 6inch depth. Doing this cuts up the underground stems and stimulates new growth in spring. Some gardeners add 3 or 4 inches of straw mulch to protect the plantings over winter. The mulch must be removed before plants begin to grow in the spring.

Harvest the sprigs of Mint when flower buds first appear. Cut sprigs 6 to
10 inches long as needed and use them fresh in drinks. You can also dry them by hanging small bunches in a warm, dry place or placing them onto a window screen. Strip the leaves from the dry stems and store the leaves in airtight containers. Use dried Mint in teas, flavorings and potpourri.

You may be more familiar with some varieties of Mint than others. Spearmint (Mentha spicata) flavors chewing gum. Peppermint (M. piperita) does not come true from seed, so use only vegetatively propagated plants. Apple Mint (M. suaveolens) has a fruity flavor and aroma; Pineapple Mint (M. suaveolens ‘Variegata’) bears green and white variegated leaves and has a Pineapple flavor. Corsican Mint (M. requienii) carries a cr_

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