How to grow mint in the garden
Mint is a plant that lives well in different climates so much that it can be found from Alaska to Kenya but it is more frequent where spring is cold and wet and summer is hot and dry. From here it derives that it can grow both in full sun and in shady areas even if the very bright places favor a greater formation of essential oils as well as long days.
The quantity of essential oils is positively influenced by the temperatures: the higher the temperature, the greater the production of essential oils. Here we will talk about Mentha piperita but the technique is similar for all the mint varieties. Mint is a plant that can be easily raised both in pots and in the ground. It requires regular and generous watering especially during the summer. It is important not to wet the leaves when watering because evaporation causes essential oils to be lost.
Mint is not particularly demanding in terms of land, the important thing is that it is a fertile soil rich in humus, porous, with a neutral pH or even slightly acidic (pH 6-7) and well draining because it does not like water stagnations. Heavy and clay soils must be avoided. Being a plant that needs organic substance in the soil, it is good to renew the soil every 2-3 years considering also the fact that it is a very long-lived plant and abundant growth.
Considering that they are plants that must be watered often and that they do not tolerate water stagnations, use earthenware pots that allow the soil to breathe.
Mint is a potassophilous plant; that is to say, it requires large quantities of potassium. In addition to potassium, however, it also requires high amounts of phosphorus and also of nitrogen which increases the production of the leaves and essential oils.
Mint flowers from spring to summer and can continue until autumn. It is not a plant that requires periodic pruning. The dry or damaged parts must simply be removed. Considering that the seeds have a very low germination capacity, these plants are multiplied mainly by vegetative means, that is to say through the reproduction of parts of plants. It is then propagated by cuttings of vegetative apexes or by division of tufts or for stolons.
In March – April, vegetative apices about 20-25 cm long are harvested. It is recommended to cut with a razor blade or a sharp knife to avoid fraying of fabrics taking care that the tool used for cutting is clean and disinfected (preferably flame) to avoid infecting tissues. After removing the lower-lying leaves, the cut part is immersed in a rhizogenic powder to promote rooting.
- Multiplication by cuttings – Cutting of the cuttings under the Multiplication node for such – elimination of lower-lying leaves, then the cuttings are arranged in a compound formed by one part of peat and one of coarse sand. You make holes with a pencil, as many as the cuttings. Take care to gently compact the soil. The box or the pot is covered with a sheet of transparent plastic (or a bag put a cap) and is placed in the shade and at a temperature around 15 ° C taking care to keep the soil always slightly moist (always water without wetting the seedlings in rooting with water at room temperature). Every day the plastic is removed to check the soil moisture and remove the condensation from the plastic. Once the first shoots begin to appear, it means that the cutting has taken root. At that point the plastic is removed and the vase is placed in a brighter area, at the same temperature and the cuttings are expected to be strengthened. When the new seedlings have become sufficiently large and have produced new vigorous jets, they are transplanted into the pot or the final soil.
- Multiplication For Stolons – From seedlings that are at least one year old they take off stolons in spring and plant in the ground or in pots at a depth of 10-15 cm.
The mint plant is easily attacked by parasitic fungi (Puccinia menthae); its stems and leaves are filled with swellings and reddish dots that then evolve into blackish specks, the infected plants must be eliminated and burnt. It is also attacked by the snails that are greedy.
The mint is harvested when the plant is completely flowered and brought to the appropriate distilleries, while for domestic use it is dried in a fresh and airy place.