Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Minty Magic!

Last but not least, is Mint!  There are many different varieties of mint, but peppermint is one of my favorites.  Mint is so versatile it can be used for everything from a natural pick-me-up to easing digestive issues and headaches.  Use it to make a hot tea, ice tea, or in sauces, soups, and marinades.  Mint does it all!  Even my kids, who scoff at any speck of herb in their food (which is why I hide them, shhhh!), will pick mint fresh off the plant and eat it until I have to shoo them away.  Beware though; mint loves to spread itself around the yard.  So unless you are ready to welcome mint in large patches in your yard, you might want to stick this herb in a pot to contain its enthusiasm.

Peppermint (Mentha piperata)

Peppermint, another member of the mint family (Lamiaceae) is a popular mint with a strong aroma; it grows to 3 feet tall with smooth leaves 1 to 3 inches long. Another dozen or so mint varieties, including some interesting fruit-scented types such as orange mint, are also available (NGA, 2010).

Growing Tips:

Plant in full sun to part shade and moist soil. Be aware that plants can be invasive, so you may want to grow your mint in containers filled with potting mix enriched with compost.
If you want an entire bed of mint, start with one or two purchased plants and set them about 2 feet apart in a sunny location. They'll quickly fill in the open area between plants (NGA, 2010).

Parts Used
: Leaves

Peppermint is an excellent herb for fevers, colds, flu, stomach gas, and depression (Tierra, 1998).  Due to its anesthetic properties, peppermint is also very useful in the treatment of headaches and stomach upset (Botanical.com, 2010).  In the kitchen, peppermint is an excellent addition to drinks, jellies, jams, fruits, or salads. 

Minty Magic Iced Tea

  •     2 cups fresh Peppermint
  •     1 cup fresh Spearmint
  •     1/4 cup fresh Lemon Balm

    -Blend ingredients together, then pour 1 quart of boiling water over mixture.
    -Let steep for at least 20 minutes (or longer for stronger flavor).  Then, pour
          over ice, adding lemon, sweetener, and sprigs of mint if desired. 

I feel cooler already!

~Kristin Henningsen, M.S., R.Y.T.  


Botanical.com. (2010) A Modern Herbal. Retrived May 31, 2010 from www.botanical.com

National Gardening Association.org (2010) Retrieved May 31, 2010 from http://www.garden.org

Tierra, M. (1998).  The Way of Herbs. New York, NY: Pocket Books.


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