I have two types of mint, Moroccan and one just labelled “Garden mint”. Both of mine smell deliciously minty when rubbed, but the Moroccan has a more oily, deeper, complex smell. It makes an amazingly refreshing, and silky-smooth tea. I usually add a little sugar, but not as much as the Moroccans traditionally do!
Mint tea does wonders for the digestion. However, the benefits of that will be lost if you let it loose in your garden. Mint creeps out horizontally, a bit like strawberries, sending down roots that really get a grip and are difficult to shift once established.
I’ve got something akin to mint in a part of the garden. It was there when I arrived and I am finding it almost impossible to get rid of or keep under control. It’s quite attractive as a ground cover, and it is also helping stabilise the steep bank, but it completely takes over given half a chance. This one doesn’t have any smell when rubbed. If anyone knows what it is, I’d be very please to know so that I can give it a name when I swear at it… see, I already need another cup of mint tea to calm the nerves!
Monty Don, the UK’s BBCTV garden presenter, recently featured mint (episode 2017:11) He is keeping a grip on his by planting them into beds surrounded by thick stone paths. But the easiest thing in a small garden is to keep it in pots. If you’d rather have it in the border, you can always submerge the pots into the ground (choose a black pot, which blends in better), keeping the lip an inch above ground level to stop it creeping over the edges. They are then easy to remove and pot-on when they outgrow their confinement.
Monty also mentioned that you should keep different types of mint apart from each other, as if they share the same container/soil they start to lose their individual nuances, resulting in one bog-standard minty taste. That is something I didn’t know, and as I have just repotted my two mints into one large pot I’ll have another job of un-potting them into separate ones this weekend!
I’m tempted to try growing some more mint for tea making… The specialist herb growers, Pepperpot Nursery, based in Hampshire, say:
People are still amazed at the choice of different Mints that are available. Despite this, the good old-fashioned Garden Mint remains the outright winner. A hardy perennial, Mint can often be more difficult to get rid of than to keep! But you can control it by dividing it before it produces root runners or by growing it in containers where it thrives very well. However, it doesn’t like to dry out so make sure it’s in a good, rich, soil based compost located in a shady position, although it does also grow in full sun.
Again, there is a vast choice when it comes to your favourite flavours, scents and leaves. There are the fruity ones: Berries and Cream, Grapefruit, Lemon, Lime, Orange and Pineapple, those with a touch of Basil, Chocolate (think After Eights) Ginger or Lavender and varieties of Spearmints and Peppermints, all great for teas, mint sauce, numerous other sweet and savoury recipes and the increasingly popular Mojitos! Add to that the range of variegated, crinkled, silver, yellow or green leaves and you’ll wonder how you ever managed with just common old Garden Mint.
Pepperpot Nursery is mostly a wholesalers but has recently started selling to the public.
Do you have any particular favourites from the mint family? Aside from tea, what do you like to make with it? Anything savoury, apart from the old mint-sauce?