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Karrma
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Recent Entries to this Blog ADVENTures for the Holidays.
Posted: 27 Nov 2011
Bay Leaves, Shakespeare and Serendipity
Posted: 09 Sep 2011
How to Kill Mint, or My First Attempt at an Herb Garden
Posted: 02 Sep 2011
Amazing Wildflowers at Mt. Rainier this year.
Posted: 29 Aug 2011
My Larger Garden
Posted: 13 Aug 2011

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How to Kill Mint, or My First Attempt at an Herb Garden

Category: Herbs | Posted: Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:59 am

I did know a little bit about mint before I started growing it. I knew that it was in my toothpaste, gum and in thin mints. I knew that it was in Mint Juleps, which sounded so romantic. But I did not know anybody could be such a bad gardener that they could kill it off without trying.
Every article about mint comes with a warning, "This spreads faster than a rumor about that crazy Karrma lady," or something to that effect. So I dutifully put it in half a wine barrel to contain it, and ignored it. It grew like mad, and I was able to harvest some for my first Mint Julep, which I think was my last. It died back in the winter, and grew some more in the summers. But after a while, about 3-4 years of total neglect other than harvesting some branches for tea or chocolate anything, the beautiful mint spears would only be at the very rim of the barrel, and nothing grew in the center, not even a weed. Not even enough for me. Fertilizer did not help. Water did not help, Pinching it back did help get a few more branches, but no new stems. Why was the dirt just sitting there?
So one day the barrel fell apart, so I was able to examine the results of my benign neglect: a perfect cast of the barrel in mint root cement. It appeared that even mint can get so root bound there is no room for water or dirt.

So I learned:
1. Mint spears will grow from any part of a root that is cut or broken. (I never broke or cut the root, so it only grew at the rim of the barrel)
2. The more you cut or tear at the roots, the happier the plant and root will be and the faster it grows.
3. You still need to plant mint in a closed container.


So now I have my spearmint growing betwixt my peppermint, and bordered by the only other plant that can battle the mint growth, horseradish. Every fall, the mint gets topped after the flowering. Leaves remain for a few more months, then die back. Every spring, this corner gets dug up and abused, indiscriminately hacking away at any roots that are not fresh and plump, pulling out about 2/3 of the roots where I want it to grow. Then I very gently and carefully pull back any root streamers that are trying to escape. So the paradox of mint, the more you hack away at it, the better it grows. Now I just need to find a better Mint Julep recipe.






Spearmint, Peppermint, Horseradish ( photo / image / picture from Karrma's Garden )






Spearmint, Peppermint, Horseradish ( photo / image / picture from Karrma's Garden )






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Comments

 

eileen wrote on Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:42 am:


I loved this blog entry!! I've, honestly, never heard of anyone who could kill off mint before. LOL So glad you found the solution to your problem though and I hope you, and your mint, go on to thrive together.




Cayuga Morning wrote on Fri Sep 02, 2011 1:18 pm:


Great blog Karma. I did not know that about mint. Makes sense though. I am going to subscribe to your blog.




carolyn keiper wrote on Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:50 pm:


great blog. and your picture reminds me of my MIL planters, only hers was filled with pachysandra and the roots broke the mortar as it became rootbound...I don't know if your horseradish or mint would do that, but you might want to watch closely for the opportunity of the roots "breaking free".




 

Karrma wrote on Fri Sep 02, 2011 10:14 pm:


Yes, that is why every spring I tear out 2/3 of the roots, to keep them nice and loose. They get rootbound quickly.





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