GAR­DEN­ING WITH DEBBI

Ovens & Murray Advertiser - - REGIONAL EXTRA - HOR­TI­CUL­TUR­AL­IST WITH DEBBI GIB­SON,

ONE of the most ver­sa­tile and flavour­some of all herbs is mint.

Known botan­i­cally as Men­tha, there are many dif­fer­ent species and many hy­brids and cul­ti­vars dis­trib­uted around the world.

They are known for their aro­matic aro­mas and flavours. But not all mints taste the same. Some to try in­clude; - Pep­per­mint (Men­tha x piperita) which has the strongest mint flavour.

- Spearmint (Men­tha spi­cata) has large leaves with a mild flavour and can with­stand higher soil mois­ture.

- Le­mon mint (Men­tha x piperita f. cit­rata) has a cit­rus taste.

- Ap­ple mint (Men­tha suave­olens) has a fresh ap­ple mint flavour and grows up to a me­tre tall and wide.

- Choco­late mint (Men­tha x piperita ‘Choco­late’) has a choco­laty taste and fra­grance. It has dark green leaves, pur­plet­inted stems and grows to a me­tre in height with a wide spread. It can be a prob­lem if not kept un­der con­trol.

- Orange mint (Men­tha piperita f. cit­rata ‘Orange’), has bright green leaves lightly tinged with red. The fo­liage has a cit­rus flavour and fra­grance.

Most mint plants are peren­nial with un­der­ground and above ground stems. They grow eas­ily and spread quickly. For this rea­son they are con­sid­ered in­va­sive though some mint species are more in­va­sive than others.

Take pre­cau­tions when plant­ing mint with any other plants, in case the mint takes over.

To keep mint un­der con­trol, grow it in a sep­a­rate gar­den bed, or plant in deep, bot­tom­less con­tain­ers sunk into the ground, or grow it in pots and tubs.

Mint thrives in moist well drained soil and tol­er­ates full sun to part shade.

To keep the plant in peak con­di­tion, har­vest or tip prune fre­quently and re­move the flow­ers as soon as they ap­pear.

This en­cour­ages shorter bushier growth and the newer, younger leaves have the most flavour. Di­vide mint ev­ery few years. Mint prop­a­gates eas­ily by cut­tings. Take a 10 - 15cm cut­ting with roots at­tached and plant hor­i­zon­tally in the soil.

Grow­ing from seed is un­re­li­able as the plant may not grow true to form.

To avoid cross pol­li­na­tion space plants as far apart as pos­si­ble.

Happy gar­den­ing.

FRESH: Mint can be a handy ad­di­tion to your gar­den, but must be kept un­der con­trol.

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