Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Mint mulch

Looking for one bigass mojito
Almost a year ago, bob k. mando gravely informed me that I had no need to weed the mint bed. As long on wisdom as he is short on capitalization, his advice proved correct. That mint has now managed to strangle out everything else in a 20' x 10' contained area. And not only the Johnson grass I was weeding, but the flowers and decorative grasses the lovely and gracious Rogue originally planted there.

From 20 cuttings that I transplanted a year ago, I now have 200 square feet* of chocolate mint. That's just in front. In back I have a (much) smaller collection of peppermint, spearmint, sweet mint, and lemon balm. It's a heck of a lot of mint leaves. The question is now: what to do with it?

While the mint is currently used for mojitos and menthol baths, and while I'm eying a really nice essential oil distillery that will convert some of it into a salable product, there still remains the question of what to do with the rest of it. I have a ton of mint, and I'd love to put it to good use.

Luckily, I came across an idea tonight that I had never considered:
Mint is beneficial to the growth of beets, cabbage and tomatoes. The leaves of mint used as a mulch for these crops help to keep away cabbage moths, aphids, ants and flea beetles... Leaves or small sprigs of fresh mint can repel mice and ants. Scatter the leaves or sprigs of mint in any place where you want to repel these household pests. The scent is repelling to them and they stay away from it.
Now, I have comfrey planted for a vaguely-similar purpose. It's one of those plants that sucks tons of nutrients up from the subsoil and stores them in its leaves. Drop the picked leaves in your raised bed and as they rot those nutrients provide a felicitous cuisine for your tomatoes and peppers. I don't like commercial fertilizers, and spreading comfrey leaves in the beds is just one more way to avoid them.

But I hadn't considered dropping fresh mint leaves into the beds to repel ants and such. And I'm not even sure it will work, or if it does, how well.  But everything is worth one shot, so tonight I cut about a 5 gallon bucket full of mint stalks** and spread them thickly in one bed full of peppers and another full of tomatoes. In one case they'll actually be a mulch, as they are covering bare ground. In the second, if they accomplish anything, it will be to repel aphids with their smell and oils.

After discussions with my bride, I plan to give Rogue's strawberry patch a good covering tomorrow.  Maybe it'll do good, and I'll reduce weeding and ant damage with little work on my part. Maybe it'll kill everything dead and I'll have to replant in July.  But since this mint has no seeds*** and spreads by root, I'm pretty sure I won't end up with 400 cubic feet of mint leaves in the yard.

But even if it did, there are worse problems than having a key ingredient of mojitos and relaxing baths growing all over the place...

* or 200 cubic feet even, given that it's a foot tall. The spearmint out back is even taller.
** actually removing the leaves from the stalks would take more time than any normal person has to spare.
*** But man do I have a busload of sage seeds drying. With the right equipment I could turn the whole state purple.


  1. You know, your successes are far more than they seem. An abundance is a gift, as with money to the rich, a cancer of a sort few would mind. Since I don't abide dollars these days, I'm far more jealous of you than Gates or the other billionaires. They are struggling to keep what isn't even real, while you try your best to use or gift your bounty. On every score, twere I to be a jealous man, it would be your rewards that I would yearn to have. I somehow doubt if you, or the system by which you develop excess, has ever had to murder anyone to gain. None of those rich men can say that, and only the terribly, horribly, self-deceiving among them would dare.

    I hope that means something right for you and yorn. I know it's not a one-man band. Even if I weren't broken, I couldn't do it all alone, know it. Be well.

  2. *shakes head wearily*

    all this mint and no mention of sun tea? good God, man, you've no idea what you're missing. and you're plenty hot enough that with a sunny day that would work fantastic.

    steep the tea from morning til midafternoon, then bring in, sugar it to taste and ice it down to ~35*. you can't beat it after a day out in the stinking hot field. i'm used to spearmint but peppermint would probably be good as well.

    the other mints i've never heard of.

    peppermint isn't actually a normally breeding cultivar of the mint family. you get it by crossing watermint with spearmint, which happens sometimes in the wild.

    oh, catnip is also a mint, sometimes actually referred to as cat mint.