Mint: Spear (Mentha spicata)
Soil Preparation & Start Indoors
Harvesting & Storage
Nutrition & Health Benefits
Also Known As: Green Mint, Lamb Mint, Pea Mint.
Ease of Growing: Easy
Grown as: Perennial
Maturity (Blooms): July to August
Hardiness: Hardy. Mint goes dormant in cold weather and can withstand most frost.
Crops: Spring Transplant
Growing Season: Short, Long
Growing Conditions: Cold, Cool, Warm. Mint prefers cool, moist conditions. You may want to grow it in containers to prevent it from becoming invasive in the garden.
Outdoor Growing Temp: 55°F - 85°F
Min Outdoor Soil Temp: 55°F. There's no advantage to starting your seeds in cold soil, so wait until it's warmed up a little, to at least 60˚F.
Start Indoors: Yes
Start Outdoors: No
Light: Full sun to part shade. Min. 6 hours daily (Cold, Cool, Warm, Hot). Mint prefers full sun, but can tolerate partial shade as well.
Water: Medium to wet. Mint likes to be moist at all times.
Feeder: Light. These plants grow best in rich soil, but almost any soil will do.
Suitability: Tolerates light frost, Tolerates hard frost, Needs summer shade
Small Gardens?: Yes
Containers?: Yes. A great container plant--it's even preferred by most gardeners! When growing in confined spaces, Mint should be divided regularly, to prevent overcrowding. The best way to grow it is in a 5 gallon bucket with the bottom cut out, sunk into the ground to within 2 or 3" of the rim.
Attracts beneficial insects?: Yes
Plant Height: 36-40"
Sow Depth: 1/4"
Produces: a plant with pointed, strongly flavored green leaves with serrated edges, and pale purple or pink flower spikes.
USDA Grow Zone: 4-9
Garden Uses: Herb gardens. Naturalize as a ground cover in moist informal areas such as pond/water garden margins or low open woodland areas.
Soil pH: 5.5-7.5, Ideal 6.5-7.0. Mint likes a rich, moist, well-drained soil. Flavor is usually inferior in dry soil.
Compost (Nitrogen), 2" 1 time: Incorporate the compost into the soil to provide nutrients and help the soil retain moisture.
Soil temp for germination: 60°F to 85°F, optimal 65°F to 75°F, optimal 70°F
When: There's no advantage to starting early. Wait until all danger of frost has passed to plant your starts outdoors.
How: Plant around some kind of barrier, at least a foot deep, or in a container. Mint will spread vigorously and is hard to remove once it gets established (even the smallest root will sprout new growth). Dig a hole 4 - 6" deep (depending on the container size). Gently squeeze the sides of the container to release the soil. Remove the plant and soil from the container and place into hole. Surround with additional soil, but don't bury the base of the plant. Give a good watering.
Cold, Cool, Warm: Mint prefers cool, moist conditions. You may want to grow it in containers to prevent it from becoming invasive in the garden.
When outdoor temp: 55°F to 85°F, optimal temp 65°F to 75°F
When min soil temp: 55°F. There's no advantage to starting your seeds in cold soil, so wait until it's warmed up a little, to at least 60˚F.
Spacing: 18"-24", (1 per 2'x2') plants per sq ft. Space 18 to 24" apart in beds. The plant will fill this space in, so don't try to overcrowd young plants.
Mint is an invasive plant. So restrict growth by growing in pots or having a barrier at least a foot deep.
Water Needs: High. Mint likes to be moist at all times.
Fertilizer Needs: Light. These plants grow best in rich soil, but almost any soil will do.
Pruning: every 2 weeks. Pick your mint regularly to encourage new growth and to delay flowering.
Watering: Water, 1 cup per plant, every 2 weeks. Mint does not need a frequent watering like other plants. Water when dry, especially in the summertime. If in a container, water more regularly.
Mint is best harvested just before it flowers, but you can take leaves anytime.
When and How: Leaves.
When: You can start harvesting Mint after it's first year. Mint is best harvested before it flowers. After it flowers you can encourage fresh new growth by cutting it down to the ground.
How: Cut stems at the base of the plant.
Storage Req: Dry
Storage Temp: 50-70°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Put leaves in ice cube containers cover with water and freeze. Thaw as needed.
Storage Req: Freezer
Storage Temp: 32°F
Storage Length: 1-180 days
Seed Viability in Years: 2 - 4 years
Classic spearmint flavor.
Mint is perfect for flavoring sauces, cocktails, fresh on salads or as a garnish, or made into tea.
Leaves: raw or cooked. A strong spearmint flavor, they are used as a flavoring in salads or cooked foods. The leaves are often used in "mint sauce", which is used as a flavoring in meals. A herb tea is made from the fresh or dried leaves. It has a very pleasant and refreshing taste of spearmint, leaving the mouth and digestive system feeling clean. An essential oil from the leaves and flowers is used as a flavoring in sweets, ice cream, drinks etc. A spearmint flavor.
Companions: Mint repels Aphids, Cabbage Looper, Flea Beetles, Squash Bugs, Whiteflies. Plant with Cabbage, Kohlrabi, Broccoli and Kale. It is notoriously invasive, so don't allow it free rein in your garden. If you want to grow mint around your crops, plant it in pots and set the pots near the plants you want to protect. Place a saucer beneath the pot to prevent the roots from creeping into the garden soil.
Enemies: Parsley or Chamomile.
The Health Benefits of Spearmint
Respiratory Health: Staying in the same region of the body, spearmint tea has a significant impact on the health of your respiratory system due to its naturally soothing and anti-inflammatory qualities. It can help to relieve sore throats and tightness in the chest, alleviating congestion and irritation. Spearmint’s powerful aroma can also help to clear up sinuses and even increase mental clarity, according to certain experts.
Digestion: Spearmint has a number of roles to play in the digestive system, particularly as a gentle tonic to ease upset stomachs. It is popular during pregnancy to prevent morning sickness, nausea, and vomiting, but can also be used by others suffering from such gastrointestinal issues as excess flatulence, cramping, or bloating. IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome) seems to be increasing in recent years, and spearmint tea or chewing directly on spearmint leaves is often recommended to treat or manage that condition more effectively.
Hormonal Balance: For those suffering from polycystic ovary syndrome or some other form of hormonal imbalance, spearmint has been shown to help manage or treat the condition. The powerful organic compounds in spearmint can inhibit and stimulate the endocrine system in different ways, helping to optimize your hormonal balance and preventing the complicated metabolic side effects, including hirsutism, by reducing excessive testosterone levels in females.
Circulation: The iron content in a single serving of spearmint is more than 100% of the daily recommended amount, which can stimulate the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin. This not only prevents anemia but also increases circulation to the body’s extremities, boosting energy levels and wound healing.
Heart Health: The high potassium levels found in spearmint are crucial to maintaining healthy blood pressure; potassium is a vasodilator, meaning that it relieves the stress on blood vessels and arteries, therefore helping to prevent atherosclerosis, strokes, and heart attacks.
Stress Relief: Menthol, one of the most powerful active ingredients in spearmint, has a soothing, almost sedative effect on the body, which has been known to produce a calm, relaxed state. If you suffer from chronic stress or anxiety, a cup of spearmint tea can help to ease your mind and eliminate the negative effects of chronic stress hormones on your body’s systems.
Chronic Disease: Some of the other chemical compounds found in spearmint include limonene, cineole, pinene, vitamin A, vitamin C, riboflavin, and thiamin. The combination of antioxidant compounds with metabolism-balancing substances makes spearmint a powerful tool to prevent chronic diseases, including cancer, many of which are caused by free radicals attacking healthy cells. Antioxidants neutralize these free radicals and eliminate them from the body.
A Final Word of Warning: Some individuals are highly sensitive to mint and may experience allergic reactions when touching or consuming the herb. While these reactions are usually mild (skin rash, throat irritation, headache, or dizziness) it is still best to avoid this herb if you do suffer from the allergy and find other natural remedies for your various health concerns.
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