(By Melinda Myers) – Add a bit of cool flavor to your beverages and meals this summer with homegrown mint. Try using peppermint leaves in fruit cocktails and ice cream. Add spearmint to your tea or use the leaves to season lamb and jelly. Or try chocolate mint for a unique sweet and refreshing flavor in desserts and drinks.
This vigorous plant is easy to grow and suited to container gardens. In fact, growing it in a pot will help keep this vigorous herb contained. Or sink a container of mint in the garden or plant where surrounding walks and walls will keep this vigorous plant contained.
Grow mint in a full sun to partial shade location with moist well-drained soil. Mulch the soil to conserve moisture. Though hardy in zones 3 to 11, you will need to provide a bit of winter protection when growing mint in containers in colder regions. Either sink the container in a vacant spot in the garden or move the planter into an unheated garage. Water thoroughly whenever the soil is thawed and dry.
Harvest the leaves as needed. Cutting leafy stems off the plant just above a healthy leaf or bud will encourage compact tidy growth. Pick mint just before flowering for the most intense flavor.
Include a container of mint in your patio, balcony or deck plantings. Keeping it close to the kitchen and outdoor living space will make it easy for you to harvest and use. Plus, your guests will enjoy plucking a few fresh mint leaves to add to their iced tea, mojito or favorite summer beverage or salad.
Not only does this easy to grow herb add flavor, but it also aids digestion. Add a garnish of mint to dress up dessert plates or provide it to a loved one to calm a queasy stomach. And use it to increase the manganese, vitamin C and vitamin A levels in your diet.
Make this the year you plant, harvest and enjoy some minty fresh flavor straight from the garden.
Melinda Myers is the author of numerous books, including Small Space Gardening. She hosts The Great Courses “How to Grow Anything” DVD series and the nationally syndicated Melinda’s Garden Moment TV & radio program. Myers web site is http://www.MelindaMyers.com.