Saturday, April 19, 2008

Planting Spearmint 101 and Mint Juleps

Spearmint is such a wonderful herb and it is so easy to grow. In fact, it is so easy that a small mint plant can take over a garden bed in just one summer, so be sure to plant mint in a container. If you are set on planting the mint in the ground, edge around the plant with plastic edgers or bury a large pot in the ground and plant your mint in the pot. Mint is also easily grown indoors.

Once the mint is planted the work is done and all you will need to do is water and harvest the delicious and aromatic leaves.

Step 1 - Fill the bottom of the container with Styrofoam packing peanuts (not the corn starch variety) this will help with proper drainage and keep the weight of the pot down. You could also use broken terra cotta or rocks. Make sure your container also has a drainage hole.

Step 2. Using a soil-less potting mix! (I like ones with fertilizer built in) Add a few heaping scoops into the pot.

Step 3. Remove your mint plant from the store container. (I really like the new Bonnie biodegradable peatpots and their herbs are spectacular.) Place the plant in the center of the container and add a little bit of water. Add potting mix to the sides of the plant until you reach the top of the pot. Pat the soil with your hands and add more mix if needed. Give the plant a healthy drink of water. Place in sun / partial shade. Will grow to around 24" high.

Harvest leaves in the morning when the oils are the strongest. Keep plants in check by harvesting regularly. Mint’s small flowers bloom from June to September; trim these before the buds open to keep the plant compact.

All this mint what to do?
Cooking: Fresh mint leaves are a nice complement to fish, poultry, lamb, and vegetables such as peas, new potatoes, and carrots. Mint can be used to make marinades and sauces. Mint is the perfect addition to icy sorbets and fruit salads. I love adding fresh chopped mint to rice pilaf or couscous.
Summer Drinks: Add a few fresh sprigs of mint to tea or lemonade. Freeze mint in ice cubes for a real cool down.
Cocktails: Mint is the main ingredient in the famous Mint Julep and Cuban Mojito.

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
2 c. sugar
2 c. water
fresh mint sprigs
crushed ice
Early Times Kentucky whiskey
silver julep cups

1. Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for 5 minutes. Cool the syrup, pour it into a glass container with 6-8 sprigs of gently crushed fresh mint and refrigerate overnight.

2. Fill a julep cup with crushed ice, add 2 Tbsp. mint syrup and 2 oz. Kentucky bourbon whisky. Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup.

3. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.

1 comment:

  1. I was really exited to find this post but was sad to find that it doesn't say anything about planting spearmint seeds. Do you have any experience with that? For some reason I am unable to get my spearmint seeds to sprout.


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