Tuesday, May 26, 2009

mint: action hero or movie monster?

Mint is one tenacious plant. Dig it up and throw it out, and its hidden roots sprout new plants soon after. And it spreads like wildfire. Oh, sure, it's green and pretty -- but it's really more like Bruce Willis in Die Hard or, if you have a less favorable view of the herb, Jason from Friday the 13th. You think you've done it in, but it just comes back for more.

You don't want to plant a creature like this in your tidy herb garden, or soon you'll have nothing but mint. (Which is not entirely bad, since mint is useful; see below.) The trick is finding ways to control it. You can plant it in a pot on the porch. Or, if you prefer to have it in the ground next to your other herbs, try this:

Find a deep, disposable plastic pot, the sort of container a shrub might come in. (Contact us at the Forge Farm Initiative if you need one; we have extras hanging around.) Line the bottom, where the holes are, with plastic or thick cloth and stones to block the mint's roots; mints are rhizome plants, meaning they spread through the roots. Then bury that pot in your garden, leaving perhaps an inch above ground.

Mints come in all different kinds. Everyone knows the familiar spearmint and peppermint, of course, but there is also apple mint, pineapple mint, ginger mint, chocolate mint, mountain mint, and on and on. Catnip is a mint, as is lemon balm. You can get a number of these plants at the Baltimore farmers' markets. (If you want mountain mint, which is somewhat rare, write us at the Forge Farm Initiative. We would be happy to get rid of... er, give some to you.)

People associate mints with toothpaste and gum, but they can be used in all sorts of culinary delights. Mint is frequently used with lamb recipes. Mint tea is said to be good for digestion.

Here's a recipe for a vinaigrette that uses mint. Hey, if you're going to tear it out of your garden, find ways to use it.

1 cup olive oil
2 T. chopped mint
2 T. chopped parsley
6 T. fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1 T. Dijon mustard
1 t. sugar
salt and pepper to taste

Whisk together. Use as a salad dressing or sauce for fish, chicken, and vegetables.

1 comment:

Kris said...

Yeah, I haven't seen Friday the 13th yet. You should have noted it was a SPOILER ALERT!!!