What kind of mint to grow?
- itsapeugeot Jun 15, 2009 09:59 PM
I'm going to start growing mint in a pot on my back deck as I've grown tired of never using all the mint I get at the store in time.
But I want to use my mint for a few different purposes:
I looked into getting the Kentucky Colonel (spearmint), which is supposedly the quintessential mint for cocktails, but I just worry it will be overpowering in the other dishes I want to make.
is there a versatile mint to grow for all these foods, or do you think the colonel will be good? I'd like to use some type of spearmint.
In my area, there are only 2 types of mint available: generic mint just labeled as "mint" and mint-spearmint. Why not buy the ordinary mint and one plant of spearmint? If you make ice cream you can add the spearment to the custard while cooking. Tehn discard.
I would advise you against putting mint in your garden. It just takes over. Plant it in a pot.
Real spearmint is a wild plant and I've never known a named variety like "Kentucky Colonel," but that doesn't mean that there isn't a cultivar being marketed that way. Most people get hunks of it from someone who is happy to get rid of some that has wandered into yet another place it shouldn't be. It's happiest in the ground where it can roam.
I've never had much luck growing it in containers because it's scraggly and hard to keep bushy. The original Born to Be Wild. I doesn't like to share its space and always looks pretty ratty.
This year I found a cultivar of spearmint called Julep that has excellent aroma and flavor, although not as strong as wild spearmint. It is doing great in a pot and is maintaining a good bushy form. It's actually pretty.
I'm growing it in the same pot with some Corsican mint used as a ground cover, and they're happy together. Corsican mint is the mint from which Creme de Menthe was originally made.
If you are going to raise mint in a pot, get one of the "refined" varieties of spearmint that has been developed for container culture. The real stuff won't be happy and you will not be pleased with an ugly specimen on your deck.
You will have to adjust recipes for the strength of any mint you use, so don't worry about it.
I'm wondering if there is a mint that grows particularly well, or are they all the same? Do you start by growing a hearty mint and then, once you have it mastered, you do a more "refined" mint? Is there even such a thing?
So many questions. Like, can mint be grown indoors? Are you planning to grow inside or outside?
The mint that I've planted (Eastern PA and Cincinnati) has grown from 1 plant to out of control in one summer's time. I've used the regular (spear)mint and lime mint and they've both been incredibly prolific without me having to feed them or water them. If it wasn't for my love of mojito's and juleps my yard might be out of control. My guess is that it can probably be grown indoors given its high tolerance to abuse.
I made a killer mint choco-chip ice cream last year. Just seeped the mint leaves in heavy cream.
Thanks MakingSense, I'll look for one of the 'for the pot' types of mint - Hortica, is a great place for anyone in SF, they have a great selection of mints.
mudaba-I'm going to be growing it outside, I think it does grow ok indoors, but it probably wouldn't yield what I'd want it to. Plus I've read that it take a lot of sun - and a lot of water, so it might be better outside.
I'll report back when I get my mint in the pot.
566 Castro Street, San Francisco, CA
Kentucky col. is a favorite of mine and any mint will do well in pots. Like many herbs there are increasingly more and more of a variety of both spearmints and peppermints and you should just explore nurseries in the bay area to find ones you like. they can all be grown in pots with good soil and organic food and do very well. Pineapple mint is varigated and very pretty but there are so many mints now it's just about going to nurseries and discovering what appeals to you.
I use Kentucky Colonel for everything, ranging from mint salads to lamb tagines, and it is excellent stuff. Stronger than what you usually find in stores, but not what I'd call overpowering. Makes tasty mint tea as well. I grow it in a confined area, directly under an apricot tree and near a 6 ft wood fence, so it gets almost no direct sunlight, but has thrived for over 5 years.
As makingsense noted, most mints do not do well in pots, at least in my experience. Actually, they do quite well at first, but get pot bound very quickly which makes for unhealthy plants. If you want to grow in pots be prepared to divide and repot several times a year.
To clarify, you *can* grow it in a good sized pot, but if you are growing it on a deck or balcony where you'd probably prefer a pretty plant, the true spearmint isn't going to make you happy. It gets rangy an looks pretty scraggly.
I was at a small nursery today and she had at least 8 or 9 varieties of mint that were compact and looked like ideal candidates for pots. They'd look nice in decorative pots and still provide a good "crop." These aren't types that you're likely to find at Home Depot, so perhaps you should try a specialty nursery.
Mint likes hot weather. Even along creek banks, it still enjoys Summer. You may be able to give it enough sunshine inside, but chances are that your home isn't going to be hot and steamy enough to keep it happy.
That's the major problem with growing vegetables and herbs inside - temperature! Our houses are air-condiioned for our comfort, not to provide greenhouse conditions.
Even my healthy stand of mind get anemic when the days get short and nights get cool as Fall approaches, no matter how warm it is in the middle of the day. By sometime in October, it starts to look pretty sad, and has really lost much of its flavor.
I teach cooking classes and just did one last week on cooking with mint. As mentioned varities of spearmint are lovely but peppermint can be overpowering. Apple mint, pineapple mint, orange mint and chocolate mint can be nice in some preparations as well. Mint even grows as a perennial some years in our horrid zone 1a climate so if we can grow it anyone can! :-)
It is astounding what you can cook with mint! Just love it.
The power of mint may have a lot to do with growing condtions. I've grown apple mint in the cool weather of SF and it was insipid -- hardly worth being called mint. Chocolate mint had a nice bite but it did not thrive. Some say Kentucky Colonel is too strong, but for me it was the best mint ever grown. I would love to find a mint that was "overpowering" so I could use less of it to get the same effect.
All my mints are in pots because I'll be damned if they're gonna take over my beds again! I use large resin or plastic pots and am currently growing spearmint, peppermint, chocolate mint, lemon balm, and corsican mint. The corsican mint is especially interesting because at a glance it looks like a moss, it's that low growing and the leaves are that tiny. I've been told it was the mint originally used for creme de menthe and it is the most powerfully minty mint I've ever smelled and tasted. I highly recommend it if you're looking for an intense mint.
As far as care goes, I do bring my pots in for the winter and they sit on a shelf in a south facing window in an unheated garage. This lets them go through their natural cycle with protection from freezes and winds (I'm in sw VA). It also lets me continue to lightly harvest into January when the plants go dormant for a couple months. I've never grown anything through winter in the house because as well as I can grow things outdoors, I invariably kill houseplants.
Corsican mint is my favorite. Once you get it going, it is so easy to propagate. Split a hunk of it and plant the divisions and they rapidly spread to the same size or larger than the original.
I've started using it as a ground cover under other potted plants to keep out the tiny weeds that seem to pop up under them.
Mine has made it through winters outdoors in Washington DC, and popped right up in Spring.