Growing Mint at Home
The mint commonly grown for culinary use is spearmint with its cool, fresh flavour, but as mint is easy to grow you may like to try some of the many other varieties, including peppermint, applemint and pineapple mint. Mint is an erect plant growing 12-18in (30-45cm) high. In the garden, the main problem is to stop it spreading out of control, so’ container growing is ideal as it necessarily confines the root spread; however, the roots do need a large, deep pot and growth will be too restricted if there is not enough depth as well as surface area of.
Start your stock of mint in early spring from a stem cutting, rooted runner or small pot-grown plant. Plant up in a 9in (23cm) pot in a rich growing medium. Keep it out of direct sun and water generously, but make sure the roots do not become waterlogged. Mint thrives even when neglected, so the initial planting should quickly spread and fill the pot. You can then takefrom your own stock and bring them on in the same way. Pinch out flowerheads, as these are of no value and only distract the plant from leaf production.
Mint is another good kitchen standby, a fresh, sweet flavour complementary to many foods, fresh and cooked. Root and green vegetables benefit from a sprig of mint added to the cooking water, or chopped mint sprinkled on as a garnish before serving. It adds a light, clean taste to salads and dressings. Among meats, it is traditionally associated with lamb, as a cooking ingredient or made into a sauce or jelly to be served with roast lamb. It is a valuable herb for sweet dishes and cooling drinks; add it to desserts and cakes, fruit salad and fresh fruit drinks. Mint leaves can be frozen into ice cubes for summer beverages, to release their flavour slowly and subtly.