Minty not-so-fresh

Mint before cuttingI should know better than to promise some sort of garden product, particularly since I don’t know what I’m doing.

But there I was, shooting off my mouth on the patio at Atlas World Grill in late June, telling one of Steve’s friends that we were making mojitos and we were making them within the next week and a half. “We have more mint than we could ever possibly use,” I said.

Emphatic: That was me. 

Then, over the weekend, I took a closer look at our out-of-control pot of mint. I noticed buds beginning to form on the top of the stems, which were, to be fair, awfully thicker than I remembered upon last look.

Mint after cuttingI snagged a leaf and bit into it. “Steve, we can’t use this mint,” I said, wrinkling my nose. “I think it’s gone to seed. Or bolted. Or whatever it’s called. Whatever it is, it’s bad.”

The mint tasted bitter, biting, like an old and untamed horse.

Steve took a leaf of his own. “Yeah, that’s bad.”

I took to the mess with a pair of scissors, and even had trouble getting the scissors through some of the stems. Where was my lovely, tender, tasty mint of just a few weeks ago? What had happened while I was paying attention to my tomatoes?

Mint rootsI cut ruthlessly. Heartlessly. With abandon. When I was done, the pot featured some scraggly stems of mint and the biggest root ball I’ve ever seen. It’s disgusting and tangled and evil-looking, like some kind of fairy tale thicket.
But I’m hoping it will grow back. There’s still time for mojitos this summer.

6 Responses to “Minty not-so-fresh”

  1. 1 Flood July 10, 2006 at 12:36 pm

    Ok 1) great pics 2) very brave for having the nerve to cut the plant back (I usually panic until everything dies) and 3) coming here might have saved my bonsai’s life, because I was reminded that it needs to eat and drink. Thanks!

  2. 2 melissa July 10, 2006 at 4:33 pm

    One thing I’ve done in the past to help potted herbs “rebound” is to remove part of the root system when I cut them back. Usually I just remove about one-third of the roots and repot them in the same pot. In my experience, it helped the herbs grow back more quickly because they were usually root-bound by the time I harvested the herbs.

  3. 3 melissa July 10, 2006 at 4:50 pm

    I should have mentioned in the last comment that I actually CUT one-third of the roots off with a garden trowel. It sounds really extreme, but it really accelerated the growth.

  4. 4 rachelle July 10, 2006 at 9:54 pm

    yeah, minty mojitos. i have made a few in my garden life. in my nature laid mint patch (the darn thing won’t die dang it!), i keep clipping off the tops to try to keep it from flowering. and cutting it back just made it grow back two fold. so coming from a novice gardener, i think you are on the right track. but i also agree with melissa, and i would lift the plant from the container to check to see if it is root bound.

  5. 5 inadvertentgardener July 10, 2006 at 11:57 pm

    Flood, I’m happy to help out the bonsai! I’m all in favor of that.

    Melissa, interesting theory — I might try that with these guys. I have a feeling I could drop a bomb in that pot and still not kill the mint.

    Rachelle, thanks for the from-experience info — very helpful. I may just leave it there if it’s rootbound — I really don’t want any more mint than I can eke out of what’s there, since I clearly don’t use it fast enough as it is!

  1. 1 The Inadvertent Gardener Trackback on September 23, 2006 at 10:53 pm

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