So You Wanna Grow MINT, Do Ya?

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MINT! Look good? Take me home!
MINT! It's an herb. Not just any herb mind you. No -- mint would have to classified as the Harry Callahan of herb fame. As in, "Go Ahead, Make My Day" fame. As in, "Do You Feel Lucky, Punk?" That starter plant of mint at your local big box store beckons. "Take me home," it whispers softly into your gardening ears. "Plant me with other herbs so I can have friends," it says.

My friends -- I'm here today to tell you this: Don't believe a word. Mint is lying to you. Oh sure -- you can plant mint in a tiny or a big herb garden. Do you know what the result will be exactly one year later? You'll have an herb bed consisting entirely of nothing but bright, green mint. And it will cast a longing eye at that bed you've set aside for tomato plants and other veggies.

Mint Overtakes Raised Gardening Bed-Bird Back 40
"You don't mind if I move right in, do you," mint asks. And before you can say "no," it's too late. Because mint has already moved in and made itself right at home. That cute little starter plant you brought home a year ago from your favorite big box store has turned into a monster that threatens to overwhelm your yard.

And it will.

That's why I was somewhat amused to read the blog posting printed in the Home and Garden section of today's Sacramento Bee. It contained a paragraph of a post from the blogger behind "Chic Little House," where the author revealed plans to plant her first vegetable garden. And the star of that garden? In the author's own words: "Yesterday, I saw mint and peppermint chocolate, I just have to grow both!"

Mint Gone Wild-Bird Back 40
Uh oh...

My friends, I'm here today to tell you this. If you do not control mint, it will control you. I know this from experience. The pictures above and the pictures below are pictures of the current state of the Bird Back 40. There's mint growing out of the walkways around my raised gardening beds. Mint has already invaded one bed. It's threatening to invade another, and will.

Mint will take over an entire garden in no time flat. It's the most invasive herb of any herb found in the herb family. It will take that oregano plant that you planted next to it and drop-kick it into the neighbor's backyard -- and then mint will grow into your neighbor's yard as well. It will choke out anything and everything in its path and keep right on going.

Mint From the Neighbor's Yard
Believe it or not, I know what you're thinking. If I knew mint was this bad and this invasive, why in HADES did I plant it anywhere in the Bird Back 40, especially near my raised gardening beds? That's a good question. The short answer is I didn't. My neighbor did. And before he knew it -- it took over the small patch he'd set aside for gardening, grew right underneath the fence and right into my backyard.

Thank you neighbor. That's mighty neighborly of you.

Evil, EVIL, Mint!
Once mint gets a foothold? It's nearly impossible to stop. The mint you see pictured here has an upcoming date with Roundup herbicide. It's either that -- or a blowtorch. And a blowtorch will just set my raised gardening beds on fire. Not a good idea.

As for the mint now slowly advancing through one of the raised beds -- that's even tougher. I'll be forced to remove every last inch of gardening soil, dig down into the clay below and eradicate every last mint root runner that I can find. I will get most of them. Unfortunately, I will not get all of them. The Roundup herbicide it will soon be soaked with will knock it down, but it won't knock it out.

The Monster in a Raised Bed for Tomato Plants
Mint is one tough customer.

So my friends -- please do me this little favor. Either don't listen to that starter plant of mint whispering to you from the garden area of your big box store -- or buy yourself a pot with small draining holes only and plant your mint there. If you make the mistake of placing this pot on the soil -- the mint roots will eventually grow right into the soil and you've released the monster.

Better keep that pot on concrete instead.


Katrina ChicLittleHouse said...

Hi Bill thanks for the advice! So glad you warned me about mint! :) I doubt I'll be planting that now even in a container, lol looking forward to reading your blog and getting gardening tips!!

Bill Bird said...

Hi Katrina! Love your blog! Love what you're doing to that house! You have a designer's eye and a designer's touch. Wish I had that. I don't. I have a mind of a tomato gardener. And I just wanted you to avoid the pain I caused myself at my old house (MINT!) -- and the monster I have here!


I keep mint in a hanging basket. That stuff needs to be jailed like that.

Darryl Musick said...

We grow it but keep it very contained for the reasons you state. It WILL take over the whole garden if you let it.

Dree said...

I bet chickens could control your mint. They killed our Bermuda grass!

Jessica said...

I commented on Chic Little House to NOT PLANT MINT! I don't think the Sac Bee or Sac Connect editors really read the blogs they posts.

Anonymous said...

I have it in my garden in a pot lined with weed cloth and I make sure to cut the flowers/seed pods off before it can drop seed.

Laura P. said...

Yeah, mint... great stuff. It took over a raised bed and I was able to kill it after about six months of pulling every runner that surfaced. I have it in a barrel and it managed to escape that too.
It has cousin named Lemon Balm that is just as evil.