How to care for mint plants and harvest and store them? This article explains.
Mint is a perennial herb loved by gardeners for its ease of cultivation, by cosmetologists and alternative medicine therapists for its useful soups, and by chefs for its unique aroma and the decoration of a large number of dishes.
The plant has been widely used since ancient Roman times and is no less popular in its current location. Even for beginners, the growing mint at home and in the garden is a feasible task.
MINT PLANT CARE
Mint care includes loosening the soil, mounding, watering (as needed), and weeding for weeds. Plant feeding is done in early spring.
Strong pruning is recommended in order to obtain more green rind for spring growth: mint will clump better.
To protect from frost, in autumn the ridges are covered with a loose layer of land or with branches of spruce, straw, dried leaves, twigs of spruce, or fertilizer.
Mint plantings should be renewed every 3-4 years, as they do not resist weeds well and shed them quickly.
Care of the plant changes slightly during the winter months and great care should be taken when watering, which is when the process of filling the stems and leaves with sap and essential oils takes place in the greenery of the plants.
The growth of the plants slows down and the fragrance is not as pronounced as in summer. Air currents are harmful to the plants and should be avoided.
Therefore, let us now summarize and outline all the measures to take care of mint.
Watering: It is impossible to let it dry out, but you should not fill it with water either.
Cleaning: regularly remove dust and let the plant breathe. Fertilize. In summer, we feed 1-2 grams per liter of water once; in winter, no feeding is needed.
Light: There is enough light in summer, but from October to March, it is necessary to increase the sunlight hours of the plants to 12 hours.
Sunlight: direct light destroys the leaves, we place the plants in a slightly shaded area.
Temperature: Mint cold is unacceptable, the required temperature is 20-23 degrees. In summer, we put it on the balcony, in winter, we put it on the windowsill.
MINT PLANT INDOOR CARE
Mint plants are unpretentious and do not require special personal care. But for mint home care, each season is different.
In summer, care for mint is hardly different from country mint, which grows well on the balcony or windowsill and can be soaked in the sun.
The pot must always have water in it to prevent the plant from drying out and the appearance of diseases (aphids or mites). Extra care should sometimes be taken and the leaves should be sprayed to keep them fresh and resistant to drought.
Water the mint at night. Water the mint frequently with plenty of water until it grows true leaves. Then as the soil dries out, reduce the amount of watering to what is necessary.
After watering, loosen the soil by hand and remove weeds. Mint does not require frequent fertilization. A mulch of peat or compost mixed with ashes once a season is sufficient.
Among the diseases of mint, the common ones are fungal diseases. Septoria, anthracnose, and Verticillium wilt are characterized by spots on the leaves and lesions with orange soft mats on the underside of the leaves, and powdery mildew you will recognize by the white patches on the buds and leaves.
Diseases are caused by improper care and crop rotation. These diseases are treated by treating the mint with a chemical solution.
A dangerous disease is mint overgrowth. The plants stop developing and cannot be treated, the green belt should be destroyed and the remaining plants should be moved to another location.
Pick mint during flowering, when it accumulates the most useful essential oils. Carefully pick the shoots to allow the mint to flower a second time.
Plant root crops (turnips, beet, carrots, potatoes) after the mint.
HOW TO COLLECT MINT
Mint is harvested from the first year of life. Before serving fresh, remove the leaves from the stems, tear them open and use them cut or whole according to the recipe.
Add fresh mint as a spicy herb to salads, lactic acid soups, meat, seafood and fish, beans, and hot peas. It should be remembered that heat treatment destroys freshness, so it is recommended that the spices be added to hot dishes before serving.
Mint leaves are harvested just before the plant blooms. During this time, they contain many healthy oils. They can be collected in two ways: the leaves and the stems.
But since our plants do not have a lot of branches, the leaf method is appropriate. You need to carefully collect a small number of leaves from the bush and prepare them for drying or freezing.
STORAGE AND PROCUREMENT
When using the drying method, you will need to wait until the leaves are dry and crushed. Then fold all these ingredients into boxes or jars and store them in a cool place for no more than a year.
You can also simply freeze the leaves in the refrigerator or on ice and then garnish any drink. Using this method, you can almost always add fresh leaves to your tea, even in the winter.
In hot weather, chopped mint wilts quickly, so keep it in a cool place-wrap it in a damp kitchen towel or place it in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Mint also dries very well. It is recommended to harvest dry from July to August during the flowering season, as the leaves will absorb the most nutrients and taste pleasant during this time.
The cut stems are dried in bunches in a cool place, then the inflorescences and leaves are cut, ground to a not too fine powder, and kept in an airtight container in a dry, cool place out of direct sunlight. In this form, mint retains its odor perfectly throughout the winter.
Dried mint can be added to broths, roast beef and lamb, veal, marinades and gravies, pea and bean soups, and other hot dishes.
PESTS AND DISEASES
Growing mint is damaged by the mint flea. Control measures are similar to those recommended for the control of cruciferous fleas. This insect lays only for the next generation in the summer. Not only adult beetles but also their larvae (roots) can damage the plant.
The mint flea pupates in August. Therefore, the beds can be treated with 60 grams of carbaryl (10% emulsifiable concentrate) per 10 liters of water after the second mint harvest in autumn.
Mint is significantly damaged by beetles and mint leaf beetle larvae in vegetable gardens located in low humidity. Like the previous pest, this insect damages the leaves.
The appearance of Fusarium mint is different from other plants: stunted plants, wilting, blackened stems, and rot near the root neck. No effective control measures have been developed, but it is noted that excessive humidity in the area promotes the growth of Fusarium.
It is necessary to improve ventilation in plantations, observe high agricultural techniques and limit irrigation.
Powdery mildew can also affect mint: white spider-like patches appear on the leaves and black spots appear in late summer. Control measures include weeding, thinning the seedlings, spraying twice on the seed garden, in 10-12 days, with a 1.5% colloidal sulfur solution with 40 g of liquid (potassium) or green soap in a 10-liter solution.
Mint rust: Infected plants with orange spots on the lower surface of the leaves. The infection affects plants through the roots. Affected plants must be removed and must not be fertilized.
Aphids: Insecticidal oils and soaps are suitable for control. The biological enemy of aphids is the ladybug.
Mites: small spider-like creatures of various colors (red, brown, yellow, or green).
They destroy leaf cells and feed on cell sap. Affected plants wilt and brown spots appear on the leaves. Natural enemies are ladybugs. It can be controlled by water flow or insecticidal soap.