With the endless uses of mint, it is no longer surprising that many people are interested in planting such in their garden. If you have no idea how to do this right, keep on reading and learn from the tips that we will share with the rest of this post. To add, we’ll also tackle some of the uses of mint, including its many health benefits.
History of Mint
Mint has been first grown in the Mediterranean and Asian region. It has been used for centuries, mostly for therapeutic applications. In the ancient times, it is used in an alternative treatment of various health conditions, such as for digestive problems. Until today, it is still known for its many uses, including in the field of culinary. More of this will be discussed in the later part of this post.
Mint was named after Minthe, one of the most popular characters in Greek mythology. Minthe is believed to be a river nymph. How exactly was the plant named after her? Well, according to legend, Minthe is Pluto’s husband. Pluto, however, has a wife and her name is Proserpine. She got jealous, and this triggered her anger, which resulted to transforming Minthe into a plant. This plant, if the story is to be believed, is the one that we all know as mint today.
Aside from the story above, historical accounts are proving that mint has been in existence for a long time already. For the Greeks, for instance, Mint was commonly used in cleaning tables and for a soothing bath, believing that mint has components that provide an invigorating effect on the body. The Romans, meanwhile, used mint to treat digestion problems and freshen their mouth. Hebrews, on the other hand, used to scatter mint around their synagogues because of their fresh aroma.
There are also famous historical personalities who have written about mint or used this herb in several ways. Turner, dubbed as the Father of British Botany, believes that it is excellent in your stomach and an important ingredient in sauces. Meanwhile, Culpepper, an astrologer and physician, has discovered more than 40 uses of mint in different ailments.
The following are some of the most popular types of mint:
From all the varieties of mint, this is perhaps the most popular. It was first cultivated in 1,750 to be a hybrid of spearmint and water mint. It is a flowering plant with a height that is usually anywhere from 12 to 35 inches. It has a fresh and minty aroma, which is perhaps what most people associate with mint.
Its appearance is close to peppermint. Its leaves, however, are brighter and pointed. Its flowers are pale blue-purple, which can usually grow at a length of 4 inches. Given an external environment that is attractive for the plant, its height can reach 24 inches.
Also known as wooly mint, it has fuzzy and bright leaves. It has a distinct apple scent, which is sure to be refreshing. Because of its flavor, it will be an ideal choice if you are looking for herbs that can be used in flavoring beverages.
It is one type of apple mint, which is known for having a fruity smell. The center of the leave is green while the edges are cream, making it look beautiful. Aside from being attractive, its leaves are also known for being hairy and bumpy.
Chocolate and mint are two things that go together. If you love it, this variety of mint is the best. It has a strong flavor, but it is made tolerable because of the hint of chocolate. The plant has soft leaves, brown marks, and pink flowers, which can attract bees when they blossom in the summer.
This mint variety comes with slightly wrinkled leaves, which are gold and green. In the summer, it can grow attractive pink flowers. The leaves will be an excellent addition in teas and salads.
As the name implies, the most distinctive characteristic of this plant is the curled and fluted leaf. The leaves are bright green while the flower is pale lilac. It has a hearty flavor that is perfect for beverages and salads.
The firm scent of this variant is one thing that separates it from many. Its smell is similar to peppermint. One of the most important things to remember is that it needs high moisture to survive. This plant bears lavender flowers that are shaped like a sphere.
Mint and Benefits for Your Health
Mint is known for the wealth of benefits that it can deliver for your health, including those that will be mentioned below:
- Treatment of Digestive Disorder: This is one health benefit that has been apparent since the ancient times. In one study from the University of Maryland, it has been concluded that mint can ease an upset stomach and can relax the muscles in the digestive tract.
- Relief from Asthma: Mint can also be useful in the treatment of asthma and other respiratory problems. This is because it can help in fighting congestion and in getting rid of inflammation that could affect your breathing.
- Boosts Memory: There are also several studies in the past showing how it can be effective in improving cognitive function and memory retention. You can have a bath with mint essential oil or use mint as a room freshener to improve your memory.
- Prevention of Cancer: It is also believed that mint can have properties that will provide protection against the most common kinds of cancer. Among others, one compound that is responsible for this health benefit is perillyl alcohol, which will be specifically effective in inhibiting the growth of cells that can lead to prostate cancer.
- Treatment of Allergies: This benefit can be attributed to the presence of rosmarinic acid, which is one type of antioxidant. It can reduce the symptoms of allergies, which is because of its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects.
- Reduction of Cravings: If you are watching your weight, mint can also be effective, especially when it comes to curbing your appetite. Several studies in the past noted that as simple as smelling peppermint oil can already significantly reduce hunger levels.
- Oral Health: This is another benefit that has been known since the ancient times. It has an antimicrobial agent and will make an excellent choice for the natural breath freshener. There is no wonder why mint is one of the most popular ingredients in toothpaste.
- Skin Disorders: There are also many skin conditions that can be treated with the use of mints, such as acne and pimples. Its juice can be applied topically on the area that is affected, and it will help in preventing further infection.
- Prevention of Irritated Nipples: For women, mint can also be promising regarding reducing the pain that results from breastfeeding. In one study from the International Breast Feeding Journal, it was claimed that it could be useful in the prevention of cracked nipples.
Aside from the health benefits that have been mentioned below, mint is an effective herb because it can be used in more ways than one, such as through the following:
- Cooking: Mint is a staple ingredient in many recipes, but it is most popular when it comes to Middle Eastern dishes. Different recipes take advantage not only of its strong flavor but also its dominant scent that will provide a refreshing taste to your food. In poultry and lamb, mint is often used as an ingredient for sauces.
- Drinks: Mint is known for being a refreshing herb. With this, there is no wonder why it is commonly used in different beverages. You can add it in plain water, iced teas, and of course, in cocktails. Mojito is one of the most popular cocktails where mint plays a major role.
- Baking: It can also be used in various baked treats, such as in chocolate chip cookie. To do this, simply mix two tablespoons of chopped mint leaves in cookie dough and have it baked as desired.
- Ice Cream: Are you planning to make homemade ice cream? One thing that you can use is mint. Its leaves will provide a refreshing twist to a sweet and cold treat. Combine it with chocolate to enjoy the optimal flavor of mint.
- Get Rid of Fleas: If you have pets at home, at one point, you must have been bothered by the appearance of fleas. With mint, you can make a natural repellent for fleas. All that you need is to mix mint, thyme, and wormwood. Place it in a pillow and put it near your pet to get rid of fleas.
How to Plant Mint
If you are interested in growing this herb at home, continue reading this section and we’ll let you how you can do so successfully. The good news is that it is fairly easy to grow and maintain. You do not need to have a green thumb or an extensive gardening experience to succeed.
General Tips in Planting Mint
When it comes to growing mint, it is best to start with a small plant that you can buy from the nursery. Choosing the right location is a crucial decision. With this, make sure to position the plant in a place where it will receive ample amount of sunlight. Because of its exposure to heat, however, it is also important to make sure that the soil remains moist.
The best time to start planting mint is just in time for spring. It is the perfect weather for the plant to thrive. Late summer can also be an acceptable time, but during such season, it needs more water so that it will survive.
Be sure as well that the soil is fertile when planting mint, which will give you an assurance that the plant will thrive. It should be moist. Ideally, the pH level should be anywhere from 6.0 to 7.0. Fertile soil will also be better for the optimal growth of mint.
When is the best time to harvest? Ideally, you should do it just in time before it flowers. It is also encouraged that you regularly harvest, which will have a positive effect on the health of the plant. Harvest while the leaves are still young to optimize their flavor. When they are too old, there is a tendency that they will be bitter.
Harvesting can be done by clipping at least 2/3 of the stem and obtaining the leaves. Do not harvest more than what is needed as the leaves can lose its aroma when stored in the long-term.
Care and Maintenance
To make sure that Mint will grow in its peak condition, it is also important to exert effort in taking care of the plant. Among others, one of the most important is regular watering, especially during the hot season. Keep the moisture in the soil, but do not make it flood.
Companion planting is also an excellent way to make sure that Mint will grow in a manner that is healthy. In this case, some of the best options for companion plants would include carrots, cabbage, tomato, and radishes.
Also, it should be noted that Mint is known for over-spreading. Therefore, you should also pay attention to proper spacing. Regular trimming and harvesting are necessary to make sure that it does not overgrow. If there is little space in between plants, they can be unhealthy and this can also speed up the spread of diseases.
There is nothing to be worried when it comes to care and maintenance of mint. The minimal effort will be required on your end, yet you can be almost sure that it will grow in your herb garden.
In sum, mint is one of the most aromatic herbs that you can plant. Hundreds of varieties are available, but regardless of the particular type, the manner in which they are grown will be the same as those discussed above. Start planting mint in your garden today. It won’t take long before it grows, and when such happens, you will have an incredible herb with endless uses.