Cultivating mint from root

Cultivating mint from root

Cultivating mint from root or a shoot is something that I seem to do every few years or so at the allotment. I seem to plant it, it dies off and it grows back again but in a different spot – about a foot apart from where I originally planted it. Looking back, I should really start planting this in pots, to restrict their root growth and stop it from taking over.

When I was weeding my garlic and onion patches the other week, interspersed in between the bulbs were these lovely shoots of mint and I thought to myself – this is one of those times where a weed is not a weed, so I gathered them up and I planted them in decorative pots. They were so luscious and green and certainly too good to throw on the compost heap.

I’d previously lined up a row of decorative pots because this year I want to do a big push on pollinators and plant wild flowers, so I knew that I could spare a couple of pots to grow some fresh mint. I’m a little low on bags of compost at the moment so I filled the base of the pots with compost from the compost heap, before topping up the rest with handfuls of multi-purpose.

I then simply planted the mint roots in the pots and hoped (still hoping) for the best. I guess the key thing to take note of when cultivating mint like this, is to make sure that there’s an equal amount of root stock in relation to the top half of the plant. Also, it’s good to make sure that there’s a decent amount of growth that can with stand any frost that can still occur at this time of year. If frost is a concern, give them some shelter in a cold frame, greenhouse, porch or shed overnight. The worst thing is when dew droplets form and then freeze – I’ve been victim to this many times in the past.

In the end, I had three pots of mint, that were planted before the snow engulfed Britain for all of three days.

Once the snow had melted I visited the allotment and sadly, the pot that contained the smallest shoots had succumbed to frost damage, and were looking a bit worse for ware – but I’m hoping that as these were planted with a healthy amount of root stock, that new and fresh shoots will sprout.

I’m quite glad that the other’s survived as the mint I planted for my herb garden at home has yet to show any signs of life!

Are you cultivating mint or any other wild herbs in your garden? Please leave a comment and let me know your methods 🙂 

The importance of herbs

I once heard Marco Pierre White (one of Britain’s most revered chefs) say “I don’t understand people who are mean with seasoning”.  I think I’m from that school of thought. I often find when I’m cooking that adding a bit more salt or a bit more pepper, can really either make a dish stand out.

Herbs are no different. Each herb has its own fragrance and qualities and react differently based on how you use it. For instance, rosemary is a very robust, almost woody herb, meaning it’s great for slow roasting. Basil is a very green and leafy herb, meaning it’s great for quick cooking, in a tomato sauce perhaps?

I haven’t managed to plant or sow much at the allotment because the weather hasn’t been much to write home about. But I have been able make a herb garden for my kitchen. I was given a trio of ceramric pots for Christmas and I’ve been itching to use them.

I’ve grown a herb garden for the kitchen before (last spring, perhaps the spring before?) And like most herb gardens you go on holiday and before you know it, they’ve been neglected and you need to start all over again.

This time around I’m going to have a go at growing some hardy herbs that will hopefully last the wear and tear of everyday life.

So what herbs am I growing?

Rosemary

Great with lamb, pork, chicken and roasted vegetables. Whenever I get a whiff of rosemary I think of roast lamb, Easter and spring. As I mentioned before it’s incredibly robust making it ideal for roasting. I use alot of dry rosemary in the kitchen, so to have a fresh bunch on hand will make a lovely change. Here’s a great roast lamb recipe that uses a lot of fresh rosemary.

Health benefits include:

  • Improving moods
  • Boosting immunity
  • Improving blood flow

Sage

Sage is such an underused herb in my kitchen. I think if it’s there’s more growing on the windowsill I’ll be more inclined to use it. I’ve always wanted to make my own stuffing rather than rely on a box of stuffing mix. I hear homemade stuffing uses a lot of sage and onions, so if you know a good stuffing recipe please post it in the comments below please.

Health benefits include:

  • Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
  • Improving skin quality
  • Managing diabetes

Mint

Last but not least for this post on growing herbs. Mint has to be my favourite herbs of all. It’s just so light, fresh but with a fragrant sting in its tail. It’s one of the few herbs that I would snip off and enjoy simply with warm water. Or perhaps even a Pimms! But my favourite use of this herb has to be with new potatoes or peas. Our friend Marco demonstrates this superbly in the video below where he cooks salmon steaks, with buttered new potatoes and tartar sauce.

Health benefits include:

  • Treating asthma
  • Aiding digestion
  • Treating depression

What herbs are you growing in your kitchen and why? Leave a comment below 🙂 

Growing mint indoors infographic

A few days ago I published an infographic from Sainsbury’s Money Matters about how to grow strawberries at home. This infographic is all about to grow in your own home. Mint has to be one of my favourite herbs of all time. When grown indoors, mint will last all year round and can be used for so many things. This video for example, shows you how to make your own mint tea.

Mint can be used to spruce up potatoes, peas and I’ve even seen it being used in jelly! Sainsbury’s Money Matters has this helpful info-graphic with advice on how to grow mint in a flat or apartment – they’ve also sent me a kit to use in my flat to help me get going!

I hope you find this as useful as I have!

Making a herb garden

No kitchen would be complete without a herb garden and fresh herbs can really make the difference to a dish. It was quite awesome because I managed to get my lovely girlfriend, Monika interested in growing your own. She took the initiative to make a herb garden and sow eight different herbs in a long container.  Herbs are great and each of them has their own health benefits – they’re also incredibly easy to grow and anyone can do it!

Oregano
Can treat respiratory tract disorders, gastrointestinal (GI) disorders, menstrual cramps, and urinary tract disorders. Oregano can help treat a number of skin conditions including acne and dandruff. Oregano is a great source of fiber, iron, manganese, vitamin E and calcium.

Rocket
Rocket, otherwise known as arugula contains very high nitrate levels. Nitrates have been shown to lower blood pressure, reduce the amount of oxygen needed during exercise and enhance athletic performance – Rocket by name, rocket by nature.

Sage
If you’re looking to lose some weight, get on the Sage as it lowers blood glucose and cholesterol. Astonishingly, more recently an Alzheimer’s study was carried out over 4 months, measuring the influence of Sage on cognition. Patients showed an improvement and other experiments have shown positive results in the young people’s memories when given Sage.

Basil
Basil is a great vitamin A and antioxidants that improve the health of your blood vessels. Healthy blood vessels lower cholesterol, reduce the chances of heart attacks, and strokes.  Basil also contains iron, calcium, manganese, magnesium, vitamin C and potassium.

Chives
Chives contain potassium, iron and calcium, vitamins A and C. If you have a cold then vitamin C, chives may help with a stuffy nose and colds over the winter period., and folk remedies recommend it for such. If you’re a little bit on the windy side, chives can help ease stomach issues and stimulate digestion.

Coriander
Coriander reduces cholesterol, in particular, bad cholesterol that builds up along the veins and arteries – this of course reduces the chances of having you experiences a heart attack or a stroke.  Coriander also has antirheumatic and antiarthritic properties.

Mint
Great with potatoes, peas and mojitos! Mint aids in digestion which is why it can be seen with an appetizer as well as your ice cream. Homemade mint tea can help you when you feel sick and offer you some relief.

Parsley
Parsley is a great source of Vitamin C, B 12, K and A and this is good news for your immune system and nervous system, too. Parsley is also great neutraliser, so if you’ve had a spicy curry or a tonne of garlic, have some parsley to clean your pallet.