1) Plant History & General Information:
- Location on Property: Herb Spiral, Laundry & Bathroom Zone
- Scientific Name: Mentha Spicata
- Region of Origin: Native to much of Europe and Southwest Asia, though its exact natural range is uncertain due to extensive early cultivation.
- General History: Biblical references to mint suggest it was of such high value as to be used as tithes by the Pharisees along with Anise and Cumin. In ancient times, spearmint was used to clear unpleasant odors, freshen breath, and protect stored food from rodents. As the Roman empire grew, the spearmint was brought to Britain where its medicinal properties became recognized. Its primary medicinal use was to treat indigestion, nausea and vomiting, as well as relieve the symptoms of respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis and the common cold. Prepared as tea from dried spearmint leaves, its mild nature made it popular for use in young children. In the middle ages, spearmint was also used as treatment if you were bit by a wild dog. The fresh herb was mixed with salt and applied directly to the wound to promote healing. During the colonial era, the British brought spearmint with them to North America, where it now grows wild throughout southern parts of Canada and much of the United States. In 1893, Wrigley Incorporated transformed the way spearmint was used in North America by introducing it as a breath freshening gum (video 1;Wrigley, 2010). Though this is the most common use for Mentha spicata today, the medicinal properties of spearmint should not be forgotten.
2) Plant Uses:
- As Food: Spearmint is often used as a flavoring for cooking, teas, candies, gum, and medicines. Jellies and sauces made from mint are also quite popular.
- As Medicine: Good in minerals like potassium, calcium, manganese, iron and magnesium. The herb is also rich in many antioxidant vitamins, including Vitamin A, beta-carotene, Vitamin C, folates, Vitamin B-6, riboflavin and thiamin. It is very useful to deal with digestive problems including nausea, flatulence and hiccups as it relaxes the stomach muscles. When consumed cold, the tea helps to relieve people from a sore throat. Drinking two to five cups a day of spearmint tea can help reduce the level of androgen. This is useful for women who have high levels of masculine androgen which causes unwanted hair.
- Other Uses: Different types of mint have different uses.
3) Growing Instructions
- Growing: When planting, keep in mind that mint will spread very fast! This persistent perennial, which comes in a great number of types and flavors, usually grows 2-3 feet.
- Best time to Harvest: Pick leaves frequently to ensure a steady supply of flavorful, tender new growth. The best time to harvest mint is midday, when essential oil concentrations are highest. Pick individual leaves or snip stems for a larger harvest. Spearmint flowers in late summer. As flowers form, flavor becomes bitter. Remove flower buds frequently to preserve flavor. If plants do bloom and you want to make a large harvest, cut plants back by up to two-thirds, removing all flowering stems. Harvest from new shoots that appear.
- Sunlight Requirements: Partial Shade
- Soil Requirements: Mint prefers moist soil.
- Propagation: Division, Seed, Separating
- Controlling Spread: Controlling the spread of mint can be quite difficult. One low maintenance way to keep mints where you want them is to place a solid barrier at least 6 inches below and 12 inches above soil level.
- Difficulties with this plant: If you want to grow a variety of mint plants, be sure to place them in separate parts of the yard, such as around different sides of the house to avoid cross-pollination problems.
History of this Plant at Hedonisia:
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