A species in mint con­di­tion

Sunday Tasmanian - Tassie Living - - HOME - Tino Carnevale

THERE are many species of plants in the Men­tha genus, which we know as mints. Their ease of cul­ti­va­tion and wide range of culi­nary uses make it one of the great­est tribes in the herb gar­den.

They are the kind of plants that need very lit­tle work for a lot of re­ward. In fact, there are va­ri­eties which have growth so vig­or­ous they are some­times con­sid­ered a bit of a weed.

They will thrive in a deep, rich, moist and well- drained soil, es­pe­cially if it con­tains a good amount of or­ganic mat­ter.

Both clay and sandy soils can be eas­ily reme­died to grow mint, as all that is needed is the ad­di­tion of a good load of or­ganic mat­ter.

In my opin­ion, the best ma­te­rial for this is mush­room com­post. Sim­ply throw a bag of it on the ground, lightly fork it in and then plant di­rectly into the site.

An­nual ap­pli­ca­tions of rot­ted an­i­mal ma­nure will keep the soil in­vig­o­rated and add good amounts of nu­tri­ents for healthy growth.

Since you may be har­vest­ing from mint fairly reg­u­larly through the grow­ing sea­son, it is a good idea to wa­ter with a liq­uid feed ev­ery cou­ple of weeks. I like to use fi sh emul­sion and seaweed but it’s up to you.

They grow most vig­or­ously in full sun but I have found the leaves can be dam­aged and the plants can dry out in ex­tremely dry sea­sons, so light or dap­pled shade is ideal for most gar­den sit­u­a­tions.

By far the most im­por­tant fac­tor for suc­cess­fully grow­ing mint is to pro­vide your plant with plenty of wa­ter.

This way, you will get good ver­dant growth, which is per­fect for us­ing it fresh in the kitchen.

There are many types of mint that are read­ily avail­able from the common mint: spearmint, pep­per­mint, choco­late mint and ap­ple mint, as well as the smaller- leaved and mild- fl avoured Moroc­can tea mint.

There is also the lo­cal mint Men­tha aus­tralis, which has a great fl avour and is such a ver­sa­tile plant that it grows nat­u­rally from the dry deserts of the North­ern Ter­ri­tory to the south­ern end of our beau­ti­ful state.

All mint va­ri­eties will prop­a­gate eas­ily, some­times almost too eas­ily. Sim­ply chop off a sec­tion of the plant with a knife or a sharp spade, mak­ing sure you take some root with you.

Rust is the main prob­lem you will en­counter when grow­ing mint. It usu­ally oc­curs when the soil doesn’t drain well and the site is poorly ven­ti­lated.

It is eas­ily con­trolled by re­mov­ing and dis­pos­ing of af­fected parts.

Slugs and snails can also dam­age plants but I have found an evening of gas­tro­pod hunt­ing can be very sat­is­fy­ing and will keep their num­bers down.

When work­ing on a hot day, somebody pro­vid­ing a jug of ice- cold wa­ter with leaves of fresh mint and a slice of le­mon will in­spire strong feel­ings of af­fec­tion, but my favourite use of mint is in the hot, sweet and strong Moroc­can bev­er­age which is per­fect for any day of the year.

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