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Guide to Mint

Photo: Oxmoor House
Bursting with fragrance and flavor, mint is a versatile herb, adding sprightly, fresh coolness to sweet and savory dishes.

SEASON: Spring

CHOOSING: Look for stems of healthy, bright green, crisp leaves that show no signs of wilting or browning.

STORING: Place freshly cut stems of mint from the farmers’ market or your garden in a vase of water on the kitchen counter for up to several days. Mint from the supermarket has been cut for several days, so place it in a plastic produce bag in the vegetable bin of the refrigerator.

GROWING: Mint is a perennial herb, remaining year after year. It will go dormant when exposed to freezing temperatures, and then sprout again in the spring.

Known for its aggressive runners, mint should be planted where it can be contained or where it can fill several square yards of space. There are many varieties—peppermint, spearmint, apple mint, chocolate mint, and orange mint are only a few. Choose one that suits your taste buds.

Set a plant or runner, with roots attached, in full sun to light shade in rich, well-drained soil. Once established, mint should be cut frequently to encourage new growth for an ongoing supply of flavorful leaves. A bed that’s bordered by concrete, such as between your sidewalk and your foundation, is an excellent place to grow and contain mint. If the patch grows too large, use a shovel to cut the runners and pull out the ones that have become aggressive.

Mint can also be grown in a large pot measuring at least 12 to 14 inches across. Note: If the pot is placed on soil, rather than concrete, mint will escape through the drainage hole of the pot and take root in the garden.