Mint in general has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, aromatic and culinary purposes. There are different varieties of mint, of which the peppermint is a cross hybrid of the water mint and spearmint, also used for its beneficial properties. Peppermint is rather difficult to grow from seed so it’s best to take sprig cuttings for planting. However, once you have peppermint securely planted, the herb will grow quickly when proper care is taken. There is a great advantage of having mint growing in the garden since they are a good mice repellant. This will be a good addition for your garden and once you know how to plant and care for the peppermint, you can derive all the benefits from this useful herb.
Here are some useful tips which might come in handy if you are planning on a peppermint patch.
a. When to plant
Sow the seeds from May to July at least 1/2 to 1/8 inches deep into the soil. Otherwise you can use the start plants for growing in the spring or fall.
b. Where to plant
Mints prefer a partly shady and partly sunny spots so choose a spot which has the suitable requirement and prepare the soil. Mints grow best in moderately well drained and rich soil with a 6.0 and 7.0 of pH, although it grows in any garden soil which is not too acidic.
c. How to plant
You can grow mint from seed, cuttings or by dividing off the new plants from the matured ones.
If you are growing mint from seed then plant them ground that has warmed up enough after the winter. Scatter the seeds and cover the seeds to a depth of 1/4″ with seed starter or soil. Keep them moist by using spray mist taking care not to wash the seeds away. Once the seeds germinate and seedlings appear, thin them apart by at least 1 foot spacing.
If you are growing mint from cuttings then take at least 6″ long and plant in a light gardening soil during the summer. Keep them moist and once the roots are well formed then transplant them in your patch.
If you are growing by division then it can be done every 2 to 3 years.n Carefully keeping the roots intact, lift the clumps from the soil, dividing the plants into pieces with the roots still attached. Cut out and remove the old, woody sections and replant.
How to water
Care should be ensured to keep the soil moist but do not over water the plant. Soggy soil causes problems of plant diseases. Mulching on the established roots will not only retain the moisture in the soil but will also keep it cool.
No additional fertilizer is required if you have already applied organic compost to the soil while preparing it for planting the new mints. In the case of established mint plants, you can mix organic compost with the top soil in the fall, just before the onset of winter. Otherwise in the growing season, you need to give a monthly dose of liquid fertilizer.
You should have very little problem if you are growing the mint in the right condition. However, too much watering, compost and no proper soil draining can lead to a disease called rust fungus which attacks the leaves. The fungus can distort and discolor the leaves and reduce the oil production in the leaves. Fungal infections can be controlled with pesticides in required doses. Rodents stay away from mint and this is very advantageous for the gardener.
Weeds and pests
Keep the plant bed well weeded as these may suck up all the moisture from the soil and dry out the plants. The weeds may choke the plants if they are not rooted out constantly by taking away all the resources. Weeds can be controlled with herbicides and crop rotation basis.
Cut worm, spider mite, mint flea beetle and mint aphids are some of the insects that feeds on mint and causes root injuries leading to defoliation. Insecticides in measured doses need to be applied when the plant is attacked.
Things to watch out for
a. Mints are invasive plants and pop up from deep within in different directions, so root out those that you do not require, taking care not to damage the other roots.
b. You can sink a pot or container of mint into the garden to give the impression that it is growing there. This is one way of stopping the roots from spreading out as the container or pot holds back the root..