Saturday, November 19, 2005

Weekend Herb Blogging #7: Must be Mint!

For this week's Weekend Herb Blogging I'm featuring the last herb in my garden that's still looking reasonably spry, but let me clarify. I mean the last herb that I haven't already blogged about (would that be the last unblogged herb?) My basil is long gone, of course, with only a few shriveled brown stems coming out of the ground to show where all that basil loveliness once was. My parsley and oregano are still hanging on, but the edges of the leaves are quite brown where Jack Frost has been nibbling. My sage is actually looking quite good still, but I already told you about it in an earlier post. My rosemary and thyme both are cut down to the ground. (The stems were stripped and the wonderful rosemary and thyme are in the freezer to become subjects for a future WHB post, perhaps.) Earlier in the summer I had garlic, but it didn't even make it to the birth of WHB, and years ago I gave up on cilantro since the Utah snails seem to prefer it above all other herbs.

What's left? Mint, of course! Mint is the easiest thing on the face of the earth to grow. It doesn't seem to need water, fertilizer, or care, and comes back year after year to delight and torment you. The torment comes from the underground runners that it sends out, eventually overtaking everything in its path if you are silly enough to plant it where it can venture out. In fact, when I was doing a bit of online mint research, the invasiveness of the mint plant was mentioned in every source I checked!


How to avoid this potential mint torment? One way is to plant your mint in pots where the roots will be contained. The other method is to do what I did, put a plastic border guard (a strip of thick plastic about 8 inches wide that you pound into the ground all along the border where you want the mint to stop.) Even with the plastic border, every spring I have to dig out some persistent mint runners that are trying to escape over into my main garden where the food and water is much more plentiful. But the plastic border is quite effective at discouraging most of the mint from traveling.

My garden has a fence on three sides (which is wonderful for early spring planting) and the mint grows all along one side of the garden, a strip of mint about 30 feet long by 18 inches wide. That's a lot of mint, and I do have a few friends who come by in the summer to pick some. Mint is great in a lot of dishes, so be sure to check out the recipes after you take a look at my hardy mint.

This last photo shows you how I have been neglecting my garden quite dreadfully since I became obsessed with the blog world, because you absolutely do not want your mint to go to seed. Mint gone to seed will simply produce more mint, which could spread out and overtake your entire world if you're not careful. Next spring I better get out there early and cut back the mint patch or my whole garden will be full of mint. Luckily, I love spring trimming just as much as I don't like fall trimming, so I can probably get it done.


Now, for those of you in the warmer areas or even in the Southern Hemisphere where the mint is probably just starting to get nice and green, here are some great recipes that will help you use up some of that mint before it takes over your life:

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8 comments:

cookiecrumb said...

Amazing.
If you cut big sprigs off the plant, and then tiresomely pick off the leaves, individually (you can actually make it a pleasant task in front of a movie or a fire), and spread them out on sheet pans to dry (in one layer -- and make certain they're completely dry, maybe a week), you can put the dried leaves in jars and brew your own mint tea all winter. (And I add sacrificed lemonlettes, sliced into disks and dehydrated in a very low oven, to mine. So our WHBs this weekend are soul mates.)

LisaSD said...

Oh my--look at those photos!!

vkn said...

Wow Kalyn! It is a sheer coincidence that I too have chosen mint leaves for this weekend :-) See it here - http://mydhaba.blogspot.com/2005/11/pudina-leaves-aka-mint-leaves-weekend.html

Do you believe in telepathy? Looking forward to other entries. Cheers. Stay warm.

vkn said...

Wow cookiecrumb. That is an excellent way to dry the pudina leaves aka mint leaves. Thanks for the comment pal.

mg said...

Kalyn,

I'm terribly disappointed that i cannot or maybe now late to join you in WHB this weekend. I have been so busy at work lately that i haven't had a chance to do much blogging.

I have some gorgeous lemon thyme that have perked up in my garden which i've used on my roast pork last week. I really wanted to showcase this herb as it's fabulous.
Maybe next time...

mg said...

I love mint with roast lamb. You're photos are great.

AzureLynn said...

Wow! More mint for the weekend herb blogging. I love my peppermint and had I NOT cut back my chocolate mint I would have featured it -- but its looking rather pathetic right now. And not likely to grow much since its currently rather cool out. Next spring though!!! MMMMM watch out! I love it in teas!
Here's my entry for weekend herb blog -- and not as photogenic as yours, Kalyn -- but still yummy!

http://azurelynns.blogspot.com/2005/11/weekend-herb-blogging-7.html

Paz said...

I love your beautiful photo of the mint leaves. I like mint a lot -- mint tea, mint in my tabboulleh, mint and lamb... yum!

Paz

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