With herb gardens becoming a common item in most homesteads nowadays, herbs are becoming used more and more for everything from cooking to medicines. One of my favorite herbs for the garden is mint. Mint comes in a variety of flavors for you to plant and harvest on your homestead. You can usually find peppermint, spearmint, chocolate, pineapple, and a multitude of other flavors of mint.

Mint comes in a variety of flavors for you to plant and harvest on your homestead. You can usually find peppermint, spearmint, chocolate, pineapple, and a multitude of other flavors of mint.  This herb spreads rapidly in all directions in the garden, can be harvested up to 3 or more times per season, is a perennial in the south, can be grown in containers or between pavers and is readily available in the marketplace.

 

Growing Mint

Mint is such a versatile plant. It is used for medicine and in foods and drinks.

Mint is planted in the spring in northern climates, usually in pots, and directly in the garden in late fall or early winter in southern zones. Mint prefers moist, damp ground. It does very well in hydroponic systems.

This herb prefers full sun or partial shade and requires a ph of 6.0 to 7.5. Although this herb does well with fertilizer it is not needed and it is not recommended to fertilize it when planting.

Replanting is required every 3 to 4 years to keep its flavors and scent strong. The tops will die back in winter except in zones 8 and south. The roots are hardy to zone 5.

Mint is vulnerable to whiteflies, blackflies, spider mites, snails, and slugs when the plant is young. Because this herb travels and spreads so quickly you will want to pinch the top stems often to encourage bushier growth. Buds should be trimmed to encourage bushy growth also. This happens between June and September.

Mint has become more popular in the herb garden. It is easily grown, easily harvested and has a variety of uses with both food and medicines.

Propagation is easy. Simply cut a stem from the plant, place in a small jar of water and wait for the roots to form. This usually happens within 2 to 3 weeks. When the roots are formed transplant to a bigger container with dirt and good drainage until new growth appears. At this time you can transplant the new plant into the garden or another more permanent container.

Mint is compatible with brassica, peas, and tomato, and is not compatible with any other spices in the garden.

 

Harvesting Mint

 

Growing, harvesting, and preserving mint from the garden is so simple. There are many uses for this wonderful herb including teas and seasoning food.

When harvesting mint, the more you pick the better! Because you do not want the oils on your hands to interfere with the drying process it is important to use gloves. Gloves will keep the oil from your skin from covering the pores of the leaves and thus cause problems with drying.

For a good amount of mint to be harvested, it is best to cut the stems just above the second or third groups of leaves. Remove any yellowed or bug-eaten leaves underneath that are on the plant and in no time the plant will show new growth. This process can and should be done 2 to 4 times per season.

If you only need a few leaves or stems you can simply snip the leaves of the plant or take end cuttings of the stems.

Large harvests should be washed and dried and then tied in bunches of only 4 to 5 stems and hung in a cool, not humid, dark place until dried, usually three weeks. You can also place in between 2 paper towels on a cookie sheet and placed into an oven set on “warm” overnight.

 

 

Preserving Mint

 

Fresh mint can be kept in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. Dried leaves if kept in an airtight container will keep up to 2 years. A food saver can come in handy here. Just place the dried leaves in a mason jar with the seal on and seal with the food saver. If you don’t have a food saver you can seal the leaves in an airtight plastic bag and use a straw to remove the air as much as possible.

Mint can be chopped finely, mixed with olive oil and placed in ice cube trays in the freezer until needed. When frozen simply transfer the cubes to a freezer bag and use as needed for recipes calling for mint. Mix the fresh chopped mint with water using the same method and use in lemonade and cold teas after straining or placed in homemade tea bags.

The leaves can be preserved in vinegar also.

 

 

Uses for Mint

Mint makes an amazing tea that settles the stomach.

Mint is known to calm the stomach and relieve sore muscle spasms. It is also a great compliment to lamb, fish, poultry, peas, new potatoes, carrots, green or fruit salads, punch, lemonade, and teas, and can also be used when dried in potpourri and in sachets. It is even used in candy making.

To make tea with fresh mint, simply wash the leaves, tear into smaller pieces, place in a food processor with enough water to barely cover the leaves. Blend until mostly smooth. Add mixture to a tea bag. Add hot water and let steep 2 minutes. When making a large batch, after processing place the mixture in a cheesecloth and strain. The juice can be frozen or used as is. The pulp that is left in the cheesecloth can be spread out into ice cube trays and frozen. These cubes can be used later for smoothies and recipes requiring mint.

 

 

More Information on Mint

 

Praise Onaturals has a great video on YouTube. It is all about how to make tea with mint.  She provides an awesome step by step on how to freeze and prepare it. Check out her video above!

 

An extensive website on herbs and veggies is VeggieHarvest.com. You can learn about many veggies and herbs and how to grow, harvest and use each one.

 

For a general guide to getting started with herbs, click here. For a good post on preserving herbs, click here or here.

 

Mint has become more popular in the herb garden. It is easily grown, easily harvested and has a variety of uses with both food and medicines.

 

Do you grow and preserve mint on your homestead? Do you have a recipe that you could share with my readers? If so post a comment below!