Mint - Uses and how to grow
Mint is one of the most beautiful herbs, with a fresh & invigorating aroma. A hardy perennial, mint is a source of dietary fiber, protein, vitamin C, A, B6, Thiamin, Niacin, Zinc, Riboflavin, Folate, Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Copper and Manganese.
In India, it is commonly used in condiments, salads, raitas and masalas; so that we can take in its myriad benefits in so many ways!
➢ Mint tea is a simple remedy for digestive problems and stomach cramps, and even menstrual cramps. Simply steep a few leaves in hot water and sip slowly. This is also good relief for sinuses & nasal allergies.
➢ Chewing mint leaves is a great natural breath freshener.
➢ It is also a natural diuretic and has been used to relieve IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome).
➢ Crushed mint leaves provide relief from bug bites/ stings or itches.
➢ Due to its fluoride content, crushed dried mint leaves can even whiten teeth!
➢ It’s a powerful antioxidant & protects the body against the formation of cancerous cells.
➢ It’s a blood cleanser; and excellent for acne. Using it on the acne or sipping mint tea; both will help.
And it’s so simple to get grow! While there are several varieties of mint available (spearmint, peppermint, in some places you can even get apple mint or chocolate mint!), the most common variety in India is the Wild Mint or the humble Pudina.
How to Grow
The simplest way to grow mint is to simply take a cutting (cut a stalk of mint and plonk it into the soil). Water lightly but regularly. It could easily grow into a lush plant within a month.
It can also be grown from seeds. Simply scatter seeds in a pot or your planting area, and cover lightly with ¼” thick layer soil. Spray or water lightly so that you don’t wash away any seeds! Again, light watering is recommended. Once the seedlings appear, thin the plants to 1 foot apart.
Mint spreads rapidly, so if you don’t want it going amok in your garden, plant it in a pot and submerge the pot to ground level in your garden. Ensure that the soil is moist, but not soggy. Adding vermicompost once in 2-3 months will help it thrive.
Keeping your mint plant trimmed will also help it become bushy instead of spreading about aimlessly!
Too much compost, overwatering, or not having well-drained soil can cause plant diseases such as rust (orange spots below the leaves). The only way to resolve this is to manually remove the leaves with the rust. Plus take care not to overwater or over-compost!
You can start harvesting mint as soon as you think it has enough leaves to let it survive being harvested! The newest leaves are the most flavorsome and aromatic. Pinch off the stem ends to keeps the plant compact and bushy.
Enjoy its taste & aroma!
Photo Courtesy: Seema Mitra
Here’s a recipe of Moroccan Green Tea; which combines the health benefits of mint & green tea.
10 sprigs fresh mint, plus extra for garnish
3 teaspoons green tea
3 tablespoons sugar (or to taste)
4 cups water
1. Boil water.
2. In a teapot, combine the mint, green tea & sugar; and then add the boiled water to it. Let it steep for 3 minutes.
3. Pour a glass of tea, pour it back. Do this 2-3 times to dissolve the sugar well.
4. Now serve the tea. Pour from a height the get some foam, and get the traditional Moroccan tea look!
5. Garnish with the remaining sprigs of mint.