Mint-the hustler of herbs

For my very first herb garden I purchased spearmint and peppermint in a flat of six plants each. I got these from the local building supply and garden mega-store. What was I thinking? If only I’d known, I would have just purchased one tiny starter plant. But at the time I didn’t know anything about herbs. This whimsical purchase became a serious learning experience. Mint is relentless and will take over the entire garden and the garden next door.

I planted it separate from the other herbs but not in another garden space. It was just a few feet away from the basil and rosemary. Within a couple of months the mint had multiplied and moved up close and personal to my other herbs.  My basil and rosemary were self-contained; they didn’t spread anywhere.  They’d just grown tall and beautiful. But that mint was another story.

I started pulling it up, potting the mint and sharing it with friends. At first I gave it as welcome-to-the-lake gifts, anniversary gifts and birthday gifts. Pretty soon I was giving a pot to anyone who stopped by to say hello.  I still wasn’t aware that it was a world-class spreader. I thought that I had an extremely good green thumb. Also I found mint tea was delicious. So I was sharing.

It was getting a little scary. Pretty soon I was pulling it up and throwing it away. It was crowding out my other herbs. Suffocating them. It had even moved to my big pile of compost and took it over.

After a few months of this I went online and simply looked up “growing mint.”  I discovered that if you don’t want your entire garden to be mint, don’t plant it in the garden. Plant it out behind a barn or down near a fence line, somewhere safe and away from the main garden.  Oh dear.

It was a long summer of relentlessly digging up and pulling up mint. I was also making tabuli with lots of mint, putting copious amounts of mint in strawberry salads and, of course, apologizing to friends I’d unwittingly given mint – since it was now taking over their gardens.  During the fall we came to an understanding, mint and I. I’d pulled most of it up and now “allowed” it to grow in containers and in a safe and secure place away from my main garden.

Mint is a wonderful tasting herb, a healing herb and mint tea is still my favorite.